Letter: Library board member corrects article
Library board member corrects article
Regarding your article in the July 7 issue "Library’s Gay Pride Month display taken down following complaints," I am requesting that you correct the erroneous information that states, "Among the four persons who complained, Rebertus said, were Ware District supervisor Gregory Woodard and Jody Perkins, a member of the county’s library board."
Not only did I NOT complain about the exhibit, I spearheaded the movement to make the public aware of the early removal of the exhibit, which was done without regard to library policy. Rebertus’s statement in your article that "There is no policy for removing in-house displays …" is incorrect. Our Policy Manual (rev. 2002) does not distinguish between library-sponsored displays, public displays, or library materials but states that grievances shall be handled using the Request for Reconsideration of Materials form to be filled out by the complaining patron.
This procedure is not only important to assure that our public library upholds the principles of the American Library Association and its guidelines, the backbone of library freedoms, and the Library of Virginia, but discourages anonymous complaints that put pressure on library staff, which were the only kind of complaints received regarding this Gay Pride display.
I have so many questions about your reporters’ journalism techniques:
What was this question that you asked Ms. Rebertus by e-mail that would lead her to give an answer citing me as a complainant and putting me in Woodard’s bigoted ballpark? When using someone’s name in a news article, doesn’t a reputable reporter check his notes with the individual cited?
When a reporter "hears" from a library director that there is no policy covering a controversial issue, wouldn’t that automatically trigger a question about why there isn’t and prompt more questions? Did your reporters think to check this rather important statement with the Library Board of Trustees’ chair?
The director stated that she had heard comments from library staff, implying complaints. Was she asked how many negative comments and if there were staff that approved of the display? What about the staffer who put up the display and returned from vacation to find the display dismantled? That couldn’t have been a happy employee. Was this mentioned by the director?
And, did Woodard request that the display be removed? In paragraph 3 of your article, Woodard says not. In paragraph 6, Woodard says "…he was not sure whether he was the only supervisor who asked that the display be removed."
Again Woodard, who should have been asked the following: How would you have felt 25 years ago as a black resident of Gloucester County if the library had done a display for Black History Month and the library director took it down because of anonymous complaints?
Your newspaper has now done a great disservice to our community and promoted bad feelings all around. If your reporters had paid attention to Tamara Dietrich’s column on this subject in the July 1 edition of the Daily Press, they might have learned about doing homework and not putting out a shallow, inflammatory "news" article.
Member and Secretary
Gloucester Library Board of Trustees