Dr. Larry White, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Library System, responded to my recent criticism of the MLS' celebration of Pride Month sent via contact form at the MLS website, with a very long and what appeared to be 'canned' response.
I say 'canned' response because a friend who also sent an email via the contact form, received virtually the same email as I, though with a twist. Attached to her email was the following photograph:I copied and pasted the email in its entirety below. Under each paragraph I have responded in red. I felt this important because I thought it might help people understand why using tax-supported programs to advance agendas like BLM, or LGBTQ is wrong.
EMAIL SENT BY DR. WHITE:
Hi Ms. White,
I want to thank you for taking the time to send us your feedback. The Metropolitan Library System (MLS) appreciates our customer’s feedback and seeks to use it to improve our services and its delivery.
Our mission is to, “Connecting our diverse communities with resources and experiences to educate and enrich lives.” In the pursuit of this mission, it is in the public interest to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those, which are unorthodox or unpopular with the majority.
As approved by the MLS Commission in April 1997, the VF 211 Citizen's Bill of Library Rights states:
“The Metropolitan Library System affirms that all its libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
- Our books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people and municipalities in Oklahoma County. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
- Our libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
- Our libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
- Our libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
- Our libraries do not deny or abridge a person's right to use our libraries because of origin, age, background, or views.
- Our libraries, which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms on an equitable basis to the public they serve, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
- Our libraries will not knowingly purchase or retain materials that are judicially determined to be illegal under Oklahoma law.”
As described in the American Library’s Association's (ALA) Library Bill of Rights, Library initiated programming is a library resource that provides information, education, and recreation to library users. Library initiated programming utilizes library staff, books, library and community resources, resource people, displays, and media presentations. The library often incorporates cooperative programming with other agencies, organizations, and educational institutions, as well as other resources, to communicate with library users. Library initiated programs should provide (1)"for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all the people of the community the library serves," as stated in Article 1 of the Library Bill of Rights. ALA believes that library sponsored programs, as well as library resources, "should not be proscribed or removed (or canceled) because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval" (Article 2 of the Library Bill of Rights). (2)It is our professional obligation to represent all the members of our community in the events, resources, and services that we provide.
(1) How does ONE organization represent ALL people? The Left is quickly splitting us into all kinds of groups. There are 12 months in a year. Which other groups will MLS 'celebrate' for a month? Gun owners? The Founders? Conservatives? MLS should SERVE all people - not REPRESENT all people - kind of like the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of Transportation.
(2) NO. It is NOT the professional obligation of MLS to represent all members of the community - it's the obligation of MLS to provide access to informational material on every subject possible TO every person in the community. That is an obligation backed my tax dollars - events like Pride Month aren't part of that obligation.
(1)The power of a democratic system to adapt to change is vastly strengthened by the freedom of its citizens to choose widely from among varying and sometimes conflicting opinions offered freely to them. (2)It is the responsibility of MLS, as guardians of the people's freedom to access information, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards, morals, politics, or tastes upon the community at large. (3)In a free society, everyone is free to determine for themselves what they wish to read or which programs to participate in, and each group is free to determine what it will recommend to its freely associated members. (4)But no group has the right to take power into its own hands, and to impose its own concept of politics, values, or morality upon other members of a democratic society. Freedom is no freedom if it is accorded only to the accepted and the inoffensive, offered only by the majority.
(1) We do not live in a 'Democracy'. We live in a REPUBLIC. In a Democracy, all power is in the people. In a Republic, power is distributed over three branches - 1. Legislative (makes laws) 2. Judicial (interprets laws) and 3. Executive (carries out laws) Why is our LIBRARY system not aware of the state of our union?
(2) NO. MLS is NOT the guardian of people's freedom to access information - PEOPLE are. It is NOT 'encroachment of freedom of access of information' NOT to use my tax dollars to pay a drag queen to read books to kids about families with two dads for a month or have a State Representative confuse children by reading them a book about how to use different pronouns for themselves other than those that match their biological sex?
(3) NO again. MLS is NOT a private group which has "freely associated members". It's a state agency created and supported by property taxes. I don't own my own property, the state has taken ownership of my property by levying taxes against it to pay for things like LIBRARIES, technology centers and state schools. If I don't pay my property taxes, the state seizes my property and sells it to the highest bidder to keep the tax revenue rolling in.
(4) STOP. Didn't MLS just "impose its own concept of politics, values or morality" on me by dedicating an entire month to celebrating LGBTQ Pride? Yes. MLS, then, is imposing it's own concept of politics, values or morality on county citizens by spending tax dollars to pay staff to actively advocate for the LGBTQ lifestyle through it's month long activities.
In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, librarians are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations as librarians significantly influence or control the selection, organization, preservation, and dissemination of information. We do not advocate for ourselves; we are a neutral party that ensures all points of view are represented in services, programs, and collections. Therefore, as part of our professional ethics, we have an obligation to resist all efforts by groups or individuals to censor library materials and / or programming offered by MLS.
NO. MLS is not a neutral party when staff creates crafts celebrating the LGBTQ lifestyle, videos are made with drag queens and countless links to other LGBTQ are made available via the website. MLS is not a neutral party when a drag queen is paid with taxpayer dollars to read books about alternative lifestyles to children. MLS is not a neutral party when other organizations like gun owners or conservatives, aren't given their own celebratory month.
MLS IS a neutral party when it keeps books on the shelves but doesn't advocate for them one way or another. See the difference? MLS may have LGBTQ books - or even books about Satanism - but they don't create a month-long celebration of either lifestyle.
MLS does not need to endorse every idea or presentation contained in the materials and programs that are made available. (1)It would conflict with the public interest for MLS to establish our own political moral or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what materials and programs should be made available. Libraries serve the educational process by helping to make available knowledge and ideas required for the growth of the mind and the increase of learning. (2)It is inevitable in the give and take of the democratic process that the political, the moral, or the aesthetic concepts of an individual or group will occasionally collide with those of another individual or group.
(1) But MLS did that with Pride Month and simply doesn't see that on any level apparently.
(2) Yes, but not with TAXPAYER MONEY. With taxpayer money, NOT ADVOCATING FOR ANY LIFESTYLE, or group, prevents 'collision' of 'aesthetic concepts'. The MLS should strive to prevent any 'collisions' by sticking to stocking books as explained above.
In planning this program, MLS worked with various community groups including several churches to make the programming available and accessible to the community. Additionally, the story time performer was vetted through an interview process and was criminal background checked, as we do for all programming performers and volunteers. The same story time performer has given similar performances at the OOC Museum of Art and other community organizational events in the past couple of years.
This is an Appeal To Authority argument. "See? A church LOVED our celebration of Pride, so everything is fine." Unfortunately, many churches today do not agree on the authority or truth of God's word. Holding up a church as a bastion of support for Gay Rights sadly means nothing to Christians who disagree with that church's stance on the authority and truth of God's word, so that remark means less than nothing and ends up being more of an overt slap in the face.
Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns with MLS. We encourage you to be actively involved with MLS in serving the community’s information needs.