Monday, July 8, 2013

A Few Reasons You Should Care about #BOOKGATE Even If You're Not from Urbana

I had a moment (or two) this evening. I wanted to encapsulate in a few tweets why what's going on / wrong at Urbana Free Library matters to everyone. This brief list isn't intended to be comprehensive, but I hope it will provoke conversation.

  1. Public libraries are public institutions intended for the public good. We must ensure they remain responsive to the public.
  2. Public libraries have always had to respond to competing needs, but libraries must understand those needs first!
  3. Public libraries must remain a bulwark against digital / device divide; streaming & downloadable content don't work for all (and aren't desirable for others).
  4. False dichotomies (e.g. change vs tradition, analog vs digital, space vs materials) should not drive strategic planning.
  5. Librarians & library staff serve the public. It's not about pay or glamor or recognition. Their expertise & service ethic matter. They should not be bullied or belittled. They should have a meaningful voice in planning and implementation of services.
  6. Strategic planning which is rushed, is not driven by genuine needs, and fails to include stakeholder and community voices is neither strategic nor planned. 
  7. Public libraries should steward public resources for public good. That does not mean, however, they should be run like a business.

I do not want to send my LIS students out into a world of cookie-cutter, corporatized public libraries. This is my Howard Beale / Network moment: I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore.

If you're mad as hell too, do something


  1. This whole blog makes me sick. You have the right to your own opinion, but working tirelessly to get everyone to jump on your nasty band wagon is gross. You are so blinded by your anger and passion that you have lost sight of any positive outcome. If anyone has been bullied here, it's the director. You've successfully ruined her name. Guilty or not, she's worked there for 30 years and must feel so unappreciated after all this. You've used every spare moment of your time to raise awareness and gather a large following. I don't know how she sat through all those public comments. So ask yourself, who's the real bully behind this? If you're still not sure, grab a mirror. You need to do some serious self reflecting on the way you choose to spend your time and energy. It must be exhausting to lead such a negative life. Take a break from your obsessive blogging and tweeting. I'm embarrassed for you.

  2. Thank you for feeling embarrassed for those of us in Urbana who are working to ensure that Urbana Free Library will be a library for the ENTIRE community.

    None of us want to impugn the Director's name or her legacy of good service to the Library. We have been exercising our civic rights and duties in bringing to light community and staff concerns. We're sorry you object to our strategies.

    Our goal is to ensure that the Library meets the needs of as many people in Urbana that it can and that it is a safe, welcoming space for all.

    1. "(T)here was a 'victory' (IMO) tonight, but only for a battle, not the war." If you are suggesting that the Director's s resignation was the victory, then the battle was against her (and her name and her legacy of good service to the Library).

      "We are legion behind the scenes. ;-)" As leader of this crusade, the question to you now is who is your war against?

  3. Still waiting for Carol's reply....

  4. Repeating the message above, "None of us want to impugn the Director's name or her legacy of good service to the Library." The battle is against administration - whether the director or the trustees - that fails to respond to community and patron needs.

    Carol posts on this blog but she is not the only person this blog represents or the only person who posts here.

    What course of action would you have favored, Anonymous? Have you attended and/or spoken at the Board meetings? Have you otherwise made your views known to the Board? Are you an Urbana resident? In the "Take Action" section of the blog you can find information about how to contact the Board and ensure your opinions and ideas are heard.

  5. I hope many of your library students are following this. I know I am.