Today is the day you’ve been waiting for, my dear patrons. That’s right, it’s a new nomination for the Fuckwit Librarian of the Year Award!!! It seems to me that 2010 has been somewhat light on eligible candidates. I wonder if our budget worries have taken too much attention away from our normal duties, so we don’t have time to fuckwit it up the way we usually do. Before we get to today’s nomination, however, let’s review the scant field this year:
-The current front-runner is Amanda Marie Cortright, who was busted for stealing almost 1,500 items from the library system she worked for. Cortright was enough of a fuckwit to tweet about reading books she had stolen and use her own email address to set up fake accounts through which she checked out the stolen items. Well done, Fuckwit!
-The only other nomination so far is Me, and that was just a joke. I had run out of barcode labels, you see, and couldn’t add any new items into the catalog for a week and a half. It really wasn’t such a big deal. Oh, and that’s not me in that linked picture. Not yet.
So needless to say, the contest this year is badly in need of excitement. Enter Barbara Wilson of the Birmingham Public Library in Alabama. Here’s the deal: the library Wilson works for, like most libraries, provides computers for patron use. As some of you may have heard, the internet can be used to view pornography. I imagine it would be a rare public institution that provides access to the internet and does not find that access used for looking at naked people. It has happened at my library, though thankfully not when there were any other people around. The thing you have to understand is that as long as the individual viewing the content is of legal age to view said content (the age varies depending on the state you live in), the patron is not breaking any laws. Therefore, unless the library has a policy specifically forbidding the viewing of adult content on their machines, the patron who chooses to do so is within their rights, unless anyone sees what is being viewed and is offended. It’s all about the other library users. The times that I have noticed someone viewing or having viewed adult content at my library have all been times when there was no one else in that part of the library. Except our cat, and she’s not easily offended.
OK, but now I’ve strayed from the point. Wilson works at a library, and people were looking at porn on the computers. Wilson’s lawyer says the patrons would “engage in acts of public lewdness,” and that they would “become belligerent when they (were) approached about it.” Wilson is suing the Library for “creating a sexually hostile work environment.” (I must note that if the acts of lewdness violated local statutes, the police should have called, and the situation dealt with by them, not the librarians. That said, if the lewdness was the viewing of content, read on…)
So the first thing Wilson got wrong is thinking that what the patrons choose to access has anything to do with us or our personal feelings about any content. Certainly, many librarians would be offended by images they see patrons viewing online, but it is not up to us what content people choose to view or how, as long as they are keeping within the limits of the law.
Second, it is not Wilson’s employer who is creating the hostile environment. Providing access to computers and the internet does not mean you are telling people to look at porn. It is the decisions of the patrons that Wilson is bothered by, not the fact that the library provides access. Wilson clearly does not understand that the whole point of libraries is to provide access to whatever content the users may require, for whatever reason they may have. It is not up to us to decide what is right or wrong for the individuals or the community. If you don’t get, you are clearly a fuckwit.
Congratulations, Barbara! You’re a contender!