Letter: Primary mission of library is to inform
I was sad to read in the Gazette-Journal that the gay pride display that was placed in the library last month was taken down early due to complaints from a few individuals. Do those of us who saw and enjoyed the display, but failed to voice our approval, not have a say? All the items displayed are usually located on the library shelves—available for checkout to anyone with a card. It would be a shame if the next step is removal of these items from the shelves.
The purpose of the public library is to provide information to the community. A display of books, CDs and DVDs—whether they are about hunting, the Civil War, Christmas or gay pride—doesn’t necessarily condone the subject, but inform. If the subject doesn’t interest you, there is no reason to stop and look at the display. If your child notices and asks a question about the display, it provides an opportunity for parents to explain and provide their viewpoint on a subject that will, at some point, come up in their lives.
Whether you agree with the subject or not, such subjects—hunting, the Civil War, Christmas and gay pride—are part of our culture. For if one feels strongly that gay pride should not be a subject in a public library, then one should also question the upcoming Christmas in July program later this month or the many programs celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Does a Christmas program promote the acceptance of Christmas to those who don’t celebrate Christmas? Does a Civil War discussion promote war? Should the only displays/programs allowed in the public library be those in which a majority of the patrons deem appropriate? If that were the case, the library would have failed its primary mission—to inform the public.
Before moving to this area, I lived in suburban New York City and suburban Washington, D.C., and find the Gloucester Library to be one of the best I’ve ever used. I want to congratulate Diane Rebertus for a job well done in managing the library.