Who Let the Dogs Out and Who Left the Dogs In?

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Who left the dogs out?

Who let the dogs out?

On April 17th, 2012 Elizabeth Sensabaugh with the Blacksburg Library in beautiful western Virginia near the Appalachian Trial  system asked Publib:

We have a library facility that is positioned near a popular walking trail. This means that folks want to stop in at the library and leave their dogs leashed outside (to a bench, bike rack, building column) while they check out materials. Recently, we’ve had some concerning situations with unfriendly dogs (potential bite situation) or, at the very least, the dogs have been barking constantly while their owners were inside for long periods of time.

I’m curious to learn if any of you have experienced anything like this with your libraries? Do you have a policy or Code of Conduct that addresses this?

Our policies involve patrons not bringing their dogs inside the library, but don’t necessarily deter them from bringing their dogs on library property/grounds and leaving them unattended. Usually this is a safety concern o an issue of disruption or obstructing walkways/sitting areas, etc. Thanks in advance for any opinions or information about your experiences!

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And, the Publib chorus responds:

We have a city ordinance that only service dogs are allowed in public buildings (including the library) and the owner must produce documentation when asked if there is any question about whether or not it’s a service dog.

If dogs and their owners are a problem or may become a problem check your city’s ordinances about dogs and public buildings. You may be able to post a sign saying “Only service dogs allowed. City Ord. ###” ~ Cindy Rosser – Waco McLennan County Library – Waco, TX

Can you set up a dog parking area like the ones they have in Denmark?

~ Betsy Vera – Gail Borden Public Library

We’re in a similar situation and our solution was to post a sign outside the front entrance that says “No unattended dogs”. When someone does leave their dog, we call animal control. (Their office is right next door so they usually respond quickly.) We’ve done that for a few years now and the problem has dramatically decreased. We took a hard nose approach after a young boy was bit by a dog tied to the bike rack. ~ Carrie Valdes- Grand County Public Library – Moab, UT

Perhaps I should look into getting a ‘no unattended dogs’ sign. The same day I was trying to deal with the growling, unattended dogs, there was a large group of people having a smoke break beneath our ‘no smoking’ sign on the other side of the library. :) It was nice to be able to point to the sign and gently remind them that they’d need to smoke elsewhere. A sign for unattended dogs could be useful in the same way. I’m very afraid that someon is going to get bitten. Your library having had that experience tells me that it’s not an unwarranted fear! ~ Elizabeth Sensabaugh – Blacksburg Library – Blacksburg, VA

Welcome to the Library!

Welcome to the Library!

Elizabeth, Most of the libraries I’ve worked in were right next to parks, so this has occasionally happened to us as well. I would treat this situation just like I would treat someone with a rowdy kid. Rather than make a policy, I’d address people individually. I’d explain to the owner (as kindly as possible, of course) that the animal was disruptive and couldn’t be left tethered and unattended. This includes taking up a bench (someone who wants t0 use it might be allergic) or taking up the bike rack (a kid might need to get his bike but be terrified of dogs).

I might recommend them bringing a partner to sit with the little guy outside next time. Or separate trips to the library. Some people get really angry, some understand once you point out the above scenarios. Either way, I stand firm and address it every time. If it becomes an ongoing issue with one customer, I’d start progressive discipline (although that hasn’t happened). As an aside, it always amazes me that people don’t seem to really KNOW their animals. I’ve heard lots of people say that their dog won’t bite, or their dog doesn’t misbehave. HA! It’s almost as bad as a helicopter mom…MY kid is a genius! My dog is super nervous and weird and I go to great lengths to walk on the other side of the street and keep him away from other people and animals. I don’t think he would bite someone, but I’m sure as heck not taking a chance!

I also don’t get it that they think it is ok to leave their pup all alone like that. What if some sadistic pre-serial killer was walking by??? And, how about some sensitivity to people with irrational (or rational, who knows) fears or severe allergies? As a dog owner, I think about those things and it baffles me that others don’t. ~ Terry Ann Lawler – Palo Verde Library – Phoenix AZ

Then there’s the whole question of whether it’s even legal in a given state to leave a dog unattended, tethered or not, on public property. And if, as sometimes happens, people park their dog for hours while in the library, what are the humane law implications for the animal who may or may not have shade and drinking water? To consider the dogs for a moment longer, there are more than a few people who would have no problem tormenting a dog. They visit libraries from time to time, whether we like it or not. ~ Kathleen Stipek – Alachua County Library District – Gainesville, Florida

Undesirables

Undesirables

We don’t have a policy specific to dogs, but we do have policies related to undesirable patron behavior. While I haven’t had to state it to any dog owners, the one which addresses “any behavior that endangers the safety or health of themselves or others” would be applicable. What I have said to one dog owner was that his dog was making people uncomfortable. I then asked him to move it.

We haven’t had a lot of dog parking problems since I’ve worked here and I haven’t been told of any from before. I think people in this community just accept the dogs and walk around them, for the most part. I happen to be the primary “dog person” here and have been known to suggest one of the local training organizations…

That all being said, I think I’ll show the dog parking photos that Betsy sent to my director to see if we can have something like that installed.Happy tails!~ Susan J. Hoppe –  Virginia Public Library

Thanks for your reply Susan. I really appreciate that catch-all phrase of “any behavior that endangers the safety or health of themselves or others”! I’m a huge fan of dogs too, and want trail users to find using the library a convenient thing to do! But I am worried about the few owners who seem disconnected from the threat that their dogs pose to children or other people. Also, obstructing the entrance/book drop/seating areas is just so inconsiderate!~ Elizabeth Sensabaugh –  Blacksburg Library – Blacksburg, VA

I had a similar situation with a dog that was tied to our bike racks for a long time on a really hot day. It turned out that our city had an ordinance that said that dogs needed to be leashed and “in control” of their owners – we were able to use that to tell the patron that they couldn’t leave the dog tied to the bike rack unattended because the owner wouldn’t be in control of the animal. You might want to check to see if you have a similar ordinance.~ Paula Wright – Appleton Public Library – WI

What rodent problem?

What rodent problem?

In my state, even snakes were considered service animals. Any legal animal could count. Someone finally put a limit on it. The challenge is when the service animal is for comfort when the person has a social anxiety or similar disorder. But obviously snakes freak out a lot of other people, so they can cause a lot of problems. To me, this is akin to the discussion on cats. I’m allergic to cats and the idea of a library cat drives me nuts. (Right now I’m getting over asthmatic bronchitis due to a bookstore with a cat. I can’t ever shop there again.) There are people who are allergic to dogs as well. And putting on my lawyer hat for a minute, if the library doesn’t kick the dogs out and the dogs bite someone, then the library will be sued as well as the owner. (Retired lawyer.)- ~ Judy Anderson

My library follows WA state guidelines which diverge from the ADA requirements. I’d check with your attorney before making a determination. http://hum.wa.gov/FAQ/FAQServiceAnimal.html ~ Carlie Hoffman  - Spokane County Library District  Editor’s note:  ADA Guidelines set a minimum standard – your State laws and local ordinances may exceed those minimum standards.

So far, in my library career, I have had someone claim an iguana, a boa constrictor, several birds, a rabbit and various cats and dogs (including puppies who couldn’t possibly have been trained and pocket dogs with little rhinestone tiaras). I’ve learned to take it all in stride and to kick out anyone who poops on our floor.

I have had the issue of someone claiming an animal to be a service animal when it appeared to be totally untrue. While it is true that if they say it is a service animal, it IS a service animal, all service animals are still subject to our code of conduct, just like all people are. In fact, all visitors period. If an alien comes in, I’m going to address her noisy behavior. I have NO qualms about kicking out a service animal if it is behaving badly. This includes: Barking Sniffing people Lunging Yanking their owner back and forth around the library Running/Jumping/Climbing Growling or hackles up for any reason

Or any other behavior that makes our library a non-welcome environment for our other users. I do EXACTLY the same thing I would do if someone had a kid doing those things (or was an adult doing them). They get a warning and then they have to leave the 2nd time I speak with them. I will be as kind as possible, but just because your dog is performing a service for you, it cannot disrupt other library users. ~ Terry Ann Lawler –  Palo Verde Library – Phoenix AZ

The ADA has a handy list of FAQs at http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm One of the interesting things this says is: 3. Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?

A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. However, an individual who is going to a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying documentation of his or her medical condition or disability. Therefore, such documentation generally may not be required as a condition for providing service to an individual accompanied by a service animal. Although a number of states have programs to certify service animals, you may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability. Soooooooooooooooooo, basically, if they say it’s a service animal — it’s a service animal…….~ Jacque Gage –  Joplin Public Library – Joplin, MO

Here are the revised requirements for service animals: http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm

Archie is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program which was created to meet the needs of service members and veterans with psychological and physical injuries

Archie is a member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program which was created to meet the needs of service members and veterans with psychological and physical injuries

One major change is that: Service animals are defined as dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities. Examples of such work or tasks include guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling a wheelchair, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, reminding a person with mental illness to take prescribed medications, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during an anxiety attack, or performing other duties.

Service animals are working animals, not pets. The work or task a dog has been trained to provide must be directly related to the person’s disability. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. In short, service animals must be: 1)Dogs 2)Trained 3)To do work or tasks directly related to a disability. 4) That trained work is not just providing comfort or emotional support. I think the 2 questions are capable of determining whether or not a dog is a service animal. Before this change in 2010, we had a patron claiming his spider collection as service animals (for emotional support).~ Jacob Browne – Jefferson County Public Library – Lakewood CO

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities http://www.ada.gov/service_animals_2010.htm ~ Dusty Gres –  Ohoopee Regional Library System – Vidalia, GA

I have read that cats can alert their owners to impending seizures (seizures in the human, not the cat). ~ Kevin O’Kelly  - Somerville Public Library – Somerville, MA

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain

If animals could speak, the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow; but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much. ~ Mark Twain

Who sues whom when I die from anaphylactic shock in reaction to your seizure-sensing cat? ~ Nikki Ehlers – Humboldt Public Library – North Humboldt, IA

We had an issue with a patron in a wheelchair who brought her service cat with her on her lap. It’s been awhile, but as I remember, the cat was supposed to alert the woman to changes in some sort of internal functioning. We never saw the cat do anything. It was a *very* mellow cat. I’m not sure I ever saw it move. Our attorney advised us not to question her about it because of the protections afforded by the ADA, as noted by Kate Mutch. ~ Deb Messling – Phillipsburg Free Public Library - Phillipsburg, NJ

I know dogs make me feel better!~  GiGi Bayne

“We have discovered that many doctors are telling their patients that they can call their pets “service dogs” if the pets make them “feel better.” There have suddenly in this area been a plethora of purse puppies riding in grocery store carts and sitting in book bags.” This is actually addressed in the ADA regs: Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. As others have mentioned, although you cannot ask for documentation, you can ask what specific tasks the animal is trained to perform. ~ Carolyn Rawles-Heiser -Benton County Public Library – Corvallis, OR

We have discovered that many doctors are telling their patients that they can call their pets “service dogs” if the pets make them “feel better.” There have suddenly in this area been a plethora of purse puppies riding in grocery store carts and sitting in book bags. There is a serious issue with insurance coverage. The certified service dog is covered. Others are not, and it is the library who is liable for any problem. You can require that the dog be on a leash & under control, on an individual basis you can ask for shot records & city license/tag, require the dog to be clean/groomed and deal with other safety and health issues. Thankfully, we have not had to deal with the other legally defined service animal – miniature horses — but I am certain it will happen. ~ Dusty Gres Director Ohoopee Regional Library System – Vidalia, GA

This has become an issue in our town. There’s a gentleman who claims that his dog is a “hearing” dog. He does not have an apparent hearing problem, the dog has not been professionally trained (in fact, it’s not all that well-behaved in general), and based on some of the other things this patron has told us, we do not give much credence to his stories. (And then one could ask, does he really need a hearing dog in the library?) ~ Ann Perrigo Ann @ Allegan

By jove, all dawgs are hearing dogs! Of course, he’s a hearing dawg, and a buddie too! And sense he’s a hearing dawg, he is welcome to come into the library, naturally. :-) Cheers, ~ Shannon Williams – Longview, TX

Aren’t service animals required to be certified? Check with whatever agency performs certification. Your state or county agency that serves the blind and disabled is a place to start. A hearing-impaired person would require a service animal to alert his/her user when someone wants to pass, or in case of an emergency to get out of the building. ~ Sue Kamm

I highly recommend “Until Tuesday” By Luis Carlos Montalvan – A Veteran and the service dog that saved him and their continued advocacy and education about service dogs. ~ Kate Mutch –  Natrona County Public Library – Casper, WY

Beginning on March 15, 2011, only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA. In addition to the provisions about service dogs, the Department’s revised ADA regulations have a new, separate provision about miniature horses that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities ~ Dusty Gres

And horse manure makes for excellent compost. ~ Kathi Kemp

Miniature horses as service animals? I would love to see our library filled with tiny little horses. We could train them to do useful tasks for staff as well.

A real Saint

A real Saint

We have a kids’ program where some dogs are brought into the children’s area and the kids “read” to them. I popped my head in this week to see what that looked like. A lot of poor, long suffering dogs, lying helplessly whilst having board books thrust in their faces so they can look at all the nice pictures. Very small children molesting dogs much larger than themselves, and using them as beanbags/jungle gyms. Parents smiling benevolently and taking lots of pictures.

I swear, when this one big St. Bernard cross looked at me, if he could have spoken, he would have begged me to find him an avalanche somewhere so he could get out of there. But he just lay there on his mat, patiently, listening to the “story” and allowing himself to be battered by a board book and a two year old. I’m fine with the animals. It’s the people who worry me. :o) ~ Jo Choto – Frederick County Public Libraries

http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/archives/58692/ Someone sent me this link . ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard – Nann @the library in Zion, Illinois

I’ve been campaigning for a library hippopotamus for years ~ Kevin Okelly

Mr. O’Kelly’s comment had me thinking of a line that funny Christmas song-”all I want for Christmas is a hippopotamus.” : ~ Elisa Babel - Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library - Washington, DC

A library hippopotamus! I love it! Thanks for the morning giggle. And you’re not the only one leaning toward the hippo biblioteca. Here’s what a quick google-image search for “reading hippopatamus” and “library hippopotamus” netted:

 ~ Audrey Jo DeVillier- Iberville Parish Library – Plaquemine, LA

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Library One-Liners

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Library One-Liners 

Reading Jester

Reading Jester

On Sat, 27 Apr 2013 ~ Sana Moulder in Fayetteville, NC asked Publib:

I’m seeking library patron one-liners for a project. I’d like questions and requests such as:

“I need a photograph of Jesus Christ,” or “I need a DVD of  A Christmas Carol, one with Charles Dickens in it,” or (one of my personal favorites), “I need information on how Muslims celebrate Christmas.”

This is for a Staff Development Day program, and should be of a caliber guaranteed to drive a Zombie Librarian into a homicidal rage. TIA
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And, the Publib chorus responds:

~ I’m looking for all your true books about time-travel~ Can you find instructions for me on how to build a guillotine? (magician).

Fords Theatre - 1865- NARA

Fords Theatre – 1865- NARA

 ~ Patron: I need a video of President Lincoln’s assassination. Me: You mean President Kennedy’s assassination? Patron: No. Lincoln. You know, the Civil
War? My teacher told me I could get extra credit if I could bring in a video showing the actual assassination.

~ I need to check out all your books on biomes so no one else in my class can finish their reports.~ Lynn Schofield-DahlBoulder City Library – NV

~ I’m doing a term paper and need information comparing and contrasting the 3 Stooges with the 4 Evangelists in the Bible. ~ I need direction on how to get to Valhalla, the home of the gods, on a bicycle. ~ Do pimentos grow in olives? ~  What is the average size of a lawn in Beirut?

~ 2 part question -(early 90s): Everyone knows AIDS came from Africa. It was transimitted by animals and carried over to animals in the US. At one point, everyone will die of AIDS except for small, furry animals that look like the Muppets.  How did Jim Henson know to design his Muppets to look like the small furry animals that will survive the AIDS epidemic?~ I saw a documentary on TV about a type of tree frog that is going extinct. This tree frog looks like Kermit the Frog, by Jim Henson. How did Jim Henson know to design Kermit so he would look like this type of tree frog?  Editor’s note: Ms. Piggy conspiracy?

~ I need film of Abraham Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. ~ Becky Tatar - Aurora, IL  

Annunciation - Dirck Bouts

Annunciation – Dirck Bouts

~ I was recently asked for photographs of angels. When I tried to clarify and see if paintings would do the woman got upset, called me stupid and asked for someone else to help her.  :) To my knowledge, she did not get any photographs out of the next librarian either.

~ I once overheard: “Do you have books on booby-traps? I need to catch the damned Mexicans who keep stealing my chickens. I heard those Viet-Gongs were real good at booby-traps.” I laughed too hard to help the poor librarian who was trying to explain that the man was responsible for anyone who was maimed on his property before handing him several references for web sites.~ Terry Ann Lawler - Burton Barr Library – AZ

Bayou Sacra Luisiana - Henry Lewis 1854

Bayou Sacra Luisiana – Henry Lewis 1854

~ Patron asks for an aerial view of local landmark, Nottoway Plantation. Peering quizzically at the GoogleEarth image, she asks, “What’s that brown stuff all along there?”   “That’s the Mississippi River,” I reply.   “Why isn’t it blue?”   “It’s called the Mighty Muddy Mississippi because of all the sediment.”   “Is there any way you can make it blue?”~ Audrey Jo DeVillier - Iberville Parish Library – LA

~ “When was the first recorded use of the word ‘love’ in any language?”~ Ann S. OwensSacramento Public Library – CA

~ Do you have any books on Chanukkah and other foreign Christmas holidays? ~ My son needs a book for school.  The author’s last name is Chaucer–I don’t remember his first name. ~ What was the date that God kicked the bad angels out of Heaven?~ Kevin O’KellySomerville Public Library – MA

~ This one was over the phone: “I have a book about William Shakespeare that I would like to sell. It is very old, it even has photos of him in it!~ Terry DohrnFruitland Park Library – FL

~ I need a photograph, not a painting, of the meteor hitting the earth and killing off the dinosaurs. ~ Not exactly a one-liner but close: I need a picture of a Georgia Cherokee teepee. (Librarian: The Cherokees didn’t live in teepees.) I need a picture of a teepee that Cherokees would have lived in if they did make teepees.   ~ I need information on the war, you know, the one where everyone got killed. ~ Another close one: DO you have anything besides “Learn Spanish in 30 days”? I need to learn it by tomorrow’s test.~ Dusty Snipes GrèsOhoopee Regional Library – GA

Fool's Cap Map of the World

Fool’s Cap Map of the World

~ We had someone once ask for a photograph of a dragon. Not a picture or drawing or painting but a photograph. ~ I also had a high school student ask for the book Ibid. I asked her where she got the title from and sure enough she showed me a footnote in a book. She would not believe me when I told her it was referring to the previous footnote until I showed her the sample in a Turabian style manual ~ Meg Van Patten - Baldwinsville Public Library – New York

~ This one sticks out: when in academia I got this urgent call: “My son has read every book there is and now he wants to read The Clavicles of Solomon,  We can’t find it anywhere!” I told her that could only help with the Canticles (Song of Solomon)… I know we touch people’s spirits but I hope when still in their bodies ;) ~ Shahin ShoarArlington Public Library Columbus, OH

~ I once had a patron complain because our color copier wouldn’t make color copies of his black and white Resume.  I never did figure out exactly what he was expecting.~ Michael GregoryCampbell County Public Library –  KY

~ My all-time favorite reference question was the Santa Fe kid who wanted to do a report on pirates in New Mexico. ~ Another fine one was the woman looking for a book on how to choose a lottery number.~ Miriam Bobkoff - Peninsula College Library – Port Angeles

Old King Cole

Old King Cole

~ Several years ago, a young man called to find out if the library was a government suppository. ~ And there was a woman calling from Georgia wanting to know if we had any information about an Inglewood business, the Los Angeles Kings. (For the sports-challenged: the Kings are a hockey team, who used to play in the Forum, a sports arena a few blocks from the library. That year [and not last year] they had made it to the Stanley Cup finals. They lost.)~ Sue Kamm - Los Angeles, CA

~ I was once asked for a color photo of Christ.~ Christine Lind Hage - Rochester Hills Public Library

~ Not a question I received, but I remember a story from another librarian who was asked for a map of all the lost gold mines in the Rockies. ~ And the tale of a Black librarian with whom I worked, who was asked for a mailing list of white supremacist organizations. “I gave it to him,” the librarian said, “But ewww.”

Step Right this Way

Step Right this Way

~ And, for real, when I worked at Baraboo, Wisconsin’s circus museum, I was asked whether we might have a photo of George Washington at the very first US circus in 1793.

I gently mentioned that photography was not invented until about the 1840s, and because of that, the requester wouldn’t find any photographs of George at any event, let alone at John Bill Rickett‘s original one in Philadelphia. “Oh. Right.”~ Erin FoleyRio Community Library – Wisconsin

~ The library gods must have heard your plea because today I got a phone call. There’s some context to this but this question was asked: Patron on phoneWhat is Shakespeare? I’ve heard of it but I haven’t seen the movie. If you must know the context he called to ask about an actress and her career and when he found out that she was in Shakespeare he wanted to know what it was. ~ Katilyn Miller -Frederick County Public Libraries

Joachim Patinir - Crossing the River Styx

Joachim Patinir – Crossing the River Styx

My friend was asked to “point out the River Styx on a map”. Seems the person asking wanted to your there.~ Liz McclainGlencoe Public Library

~ We had a patron wanting to know the time. The circ clerk answered his question gesturing to the large, roman-numeraled clock nearby. He replied he couldn’t read it because he didn’t know Romanian.~ Jacque GageJoplin Public Library – Joplin, MO

~ Famous one-liner: “Where are the stacks?”

~ Teresa: Mam, would you like to sign up for our winter reading club for adults, Cabin Fever?
Woman: What do I have to do?
Tersesa: Rate all the books you read.
Woman: But I didn’t like the last one.
Tersesa: That’s okay. You don’t have to like them all.
Woman: I only want to enter the books I liked…

~ Leah: I love my new WiFi detector t-shirt!
Scott @IT: We should give one to the director at North Pocono. Maybe then we can pin down the source of their WiFi problems. “Call us if your shirt goes on or turns off.” Come to think of it…that doesn’t sound good, does it?

~ I called our local printer to get a rough estimate on printing book marks.
Leah: How much would 300 book marks cost to print?
Printer: In color?
Leah: Sure.
Printer: Will they bleed?
Leah (baffled): I HOPE not…. It’s YOUR paper!~ Leah Ducato Rudolph - Abington Community Library

~ Several years ago someone asked me for a picture of a cross-section of a banana showing the seeds. I finally found one, but it wasn’t easy.~ Holly HebertThe Brentwood Library – TN

~ Patron - “I’m looking for information on the Sultana Indians
Me (after a long and fruitless search) - “where did you get this reference?”
Patron - “I dreamed about them.”~ Lisa RichlandFloyd Memorial Library –  NY

Beethoven

Beethoven looking a bit peeved

~ Two favorites from here… The High Rockies of need… (Hierarchies of need) ~ And that song, Furry Lace (Fur Elise)~ Karen E. Probst - Appleton Public Library

~ I’d like a sound recording of real dinosaurs.  ~ If I make recipes from a diabetic cookbook, will it give me diabetes? ~ Susan Hunt - Aboite Branch Library- Fort Wayne, IN

~ I once got asked where our gynecology department was. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud as I explained where our genealogy department is.~ Deborah BryanTopeka and Shawnee County Public Library

~ Not a patron one liner but….I had a staff member ask me one day, Where are the eBooks shelved?

~ Patron: Where can I find the books on um, you know motivation and stuff? Me: (looking on the catalogue), I see there is one here, shall we go over and have a look? Patron: Nah, I can’t be bothered just yet, maybe tomorrow. I swear – true story. ~ Lisa Pritchard - New Zealand

~ At my previous library out west, we once got a call from a patron asking if we had the “Anals of Wyoming” in our periodical collection. ~ Stephen Sarazin - Aston Public Library – PA

Gutenberg Bible - Epistle of St Jerome

Gutenberg Bible – Epistle of St Jerome – Patron Saint of Librarians

~ Henry Huntington, railroad millionaire, established the famous Huntington Library and Art Collection in his estate in San Marino, California. It’s home to many rare books, including a Gutenberg Bible. About 50 miles away is Huntington Beach, California, named for Henry Huntington when he put a rail line through to the town.I used to work at the Huntington Beach Public Library, and for years confused tourists would come to the desk to ask to see our Gutenberg Bible. Best one-liner ever? Look at the computer screen and say, “Sorry, that’s checked out today.” Maybe a little too much background needed for this to be a great one liner, but we loved it.~ Roger Hiles - Library Services Manager Arcadia Public Library – CA

Et tu, Granny?

Et tu, Granny?

~ Just saw a written information request: “About epilepsy or Grandma Ceazer. Just been diagnosed.”~ Anne FelixGrand Prairie, TX

~ I have one from when my son worked at a grocery store. A woman requested “bee honey” so they escorted her to the honey aisle. “But which one is bee honey?” They told her that only bees make honey, and she didn’t believe them. In fact, she thought they were making fun of her. (Which they did, in spades, after she left the store.)~ Cheryl Coovert  – Lexington, KY

Reading Jester

Reading Jester

Clover honey is made by clover.
Wild flower honey is made by wild flowers.
Spelling bees make word honey.
And WHERE do you think quilts come from?~ Chris Rippel - Central Kansas Library System –  Kansas

Editor’s note: Everyone on Publib knows that the best Quilts come from BiblioQuilters such as Nann Blaine Hilyard and Sana Moulder.

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Best of Publib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of PubLib – January 2013 in Review

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Best of Publib January 2013

Best of Publib Word Cloud
January 2013

This edition of Best of Publib covers the month of January 2013.  Hot topics for the month of January included:

  • Cataloging Local Textbooks ~
    • Debra Bashaw of the McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, TX asked:
    • How do you catalog cookbooks from local organizations?
  • Lending E-reader devices ~
    • Lucien Kress of the Multnomah County Library asked regarding the DOJ settlements over e-reader accessibility queried:
    • Are you loaning only accessible e-readers, which readers do you loan and other pertinent questions.
  • List Problems ~
    • Amy Mullin of the Austin Public Library wanted to know:
    • Are there technical problems with the list?
  • Playaways ~
    • John Richmond of the Alpha Park Public Libray District in Bartonville, IL pondered and ruminated:
    • “I’m wondering if anyone Out There has changed policies re: what they/you provide with Playaways. And if you took something away, did people holler? (Which, of course, they shouldn’t do, because they’re in a *library*.)”
  • Surveys for the Public ~
    • Elizabeth Thorson of the Laramie County Library System in Cheyenne, WY asked:
    • “Has anyone surveyed the public when facing budget cuts?”
  • Requests by Parents for in loco parentis services ~
    • Beth Hudson of the Walla Walla Public Library in Walla Walla, Washington wondered :
    • Does anyone have a written statement which they provide when a parents asks that you not check out certain items to their child?”.
  • Worst Marketing Idea(s) Ever ~
    • Dierdre Conkling of the Lincoln County Library District reported on ALA OIF’s plan for a sweater vest day to support intellectual freedom:
    • “I think this sounds like fun but I don’t own a sweater vest. Just shows once again that I am not cool. ;-)”

On January 10th The ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom announced their ‘Wear a sweater vest on Sunday, Jan. 27, in support of intellectual freedom!‘ campaign.  If librarians attending Mid-Winter ALA would wear a sweater vest on that day, it would demonstrate their commitment and support of intellectual freedom.

In jaw-dropping, dumbfounded awe I asked:

I am trying to imagine how Judith Krug would have reacted to perhaps the worst marketing idea I have ever seen and the dynamics of a meeting where this idea was proposed and validated. Did no one dare to speak truth to power?

What does a ‘sweater vest’ represent? How the heck does a sweater vest  correlate to *any* form of ‘intellectual freedom’? Perhaps what is most appalling is the obvious lack of intellectual effort it takes to say you *support* intellectual freedom by wearing a sweater vest.

Maybe this will take off along the same lines as ‘Geek the Library’, which seriously detracts from the library mission. Bad ideas, once they are validated, tend to gain their own momentum.

The Emperor's New Clothes

Emperor’s New Clothes

This touched off two discussions on the list – one about the efficacy of sweater vests as statements of intellectual freedom and the other about the importance or impotence of the Geek the Library campaign administered by OCLC.  And, there were the anticipated reactions from some readers who were simply aghast that I would question poorly made decisions by established bureaucracies. :)

Emily Weak who had been promoting a librarian employment site/ blog on Publib asked:

Somewhat off your topic, but I am curious as to how “Geek the Library” detracts  from the library’s mission? Isn’t it about the diversity of resources one can find at the library (i.e. whatever you have a crazy passion for, you can find  materials about it at the library)? Is it that you feel geek has negative connotations?

The Side Show Honoré Daumier

The Side Show
Honoré Daumier

The Geek the Library campaign has evolved into its own bureaucracy supported by grants by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and administered by OCLC.  I have found no empirical evidence that Geek the Library is more effective than any other course of advertising or promotion. In fact, there may be many, much more effective methods.  Anna Cangialosi with the Chelsea District Library did provide a link to an anecdotal case study on Publib.  However, there appears to be no clear data regarding effectiveness. The press release branded by OCLC seems to be yet another self-serving validation for people who self-identify as being a ‘geek’.

Professional librarians have spent years trying to separate themselves from the stereotype of anti-social professional clerks.  The movement to create a new stereotype by branding librarians as Geeks may result in many more years of trying to live down that stereotype.  Why not continue what we were working towards => a stereotype representing professionalism along with informational and intellectual excellence?

Saving Our Public Libraries

Saving Our Public Lbraries

Rather than blindly accepting that a terrible marketing campaign is in your interest and the interest of your library – why not read a book about how you can promote your library? Why not do a critical assessment of what works and what doesn’t? Why not re-engage in library science as a fundamental set of skills?

Janet Jai has written an excellent book that investigates success stories, expert advice and innovative ideas that support library marketing. If you haven’t ordered it yet,  you should order it for your library today: Saving Our Public Libraries  Why We Should. How We Can.

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Saggy Pants

Fashion Police at the Library – No Ifs, Ands or Butts . . .

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Melissa Davidson - Staunton, Virginia asks: 

How are you handling the saggy pants trend? I’m talking about when the waist of the pants is clearly below the bum and heading towards the knees.

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

1920s woman daring to wear pants!

1920s woman daring to wear pants!

Wendy Wright – Denman Island, BC CANADA  ~ Ridiculous though the style is, my crystal ball offers some predictions for five years from now if we try to control teens’ ever-changing fashion trends. In 2017…

  • ~ No-one will be wearing sagging pants.
  • ~ Today’s teens will be voting, taxpaying adults.
  • ~ Those adults will not be using or supporting a library where they once felt unwelcome or talked down to.

Melissa does not specify teens in her query, yet most of us assume we are discussing this age group. For a bit of perspective, we might ask ourselves whether we would follow through on an adult infringement of a rule governing dress. For example, if we are comfortable suggesting to an adult patron that her shirt emblazoned with expletives is inappropriate in the library, but would then tactfully ignore a 30-year-old’s colourful boxers, then our library’s policy should reflect that practice, for all patrons. It is easy to fall into the trap of creating double standards for adults and teens, who have a nose for hypocrisy.

Jacobean Embroidery Leaf

Jacobean Embroidery Leaf

Nann Blaine Hilyard ~  In our community there are adults who wear saggy baggy pants.  Not as saggy as the teens but plenty baggy.  The current  fashion is that the back pockets (which fall on the thigh rather than the butt) have lots of embroidery.    The  juxtaposition is that men with saggy baggies accompany women in leggings (and jeggings, which are stretch denim leggings). Often the women are plump.  (Where are Stacy and Clinton (What Not to Wear) when we need them?)

Angela Morse ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMwhl4IrPNc Pants on the ground….

Chris Rippel – Great Bend, Kansas ~  Make sure actions against sagging pants don’t expose your own fannies. *Library Law: Constitutional and Unconstitutional Patron Appearance and Behavior Policies: A Review* By James W. Fessler and E. Kenneth Friker, Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, Ltd.  February 27, 2008 http://www.nsls.info/articles/detail.aspx?articleID=186

Lisa Richland – Greenport, NY ~ Melissa- Are you talking about patrons or staff?  Because I ignore the patrons’ dress habits, and tell staff when their dress is inappropriate.  In the case of staff, those low hanging trousers are in addition an impediment to mobility. And if it is just the aesthetics of the style, I avert my eyes.

Dusty Gres – Vidalia, GA ~ Depends on what else is showing, actually, but here is a true story in the daily life: One of my Branch Clerks is a retired (25 years) Army Master Sergeant. I recently overheard this transaction:

  • Clerk to teenage patron:  There you go. I think you will really like this book. Have a nice day, and son, pull up your pants.
  • Patron:  pulled up his pants

Janet Lerner ~ We’ve posted an excerpt from Philadelphia Mayor Nutter’s speech  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/aug/8/mayor-talks-tough-to-black-teens-after-flash-mobs  in the Young Adult section of our library, as follows:

“Pull your pants up and buy a belt ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.’ If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you?” “‘They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy,’ the mayor said.”
Jawaharlal_Nehru

Nehru in his jacket

Steve Benson ~ I think it’s a goofy fashion but any goofier than bell bottoms or nehru jackets? The boys aren’t exposing their back ends because they seem to always have very nice underwear to go with the saggy pants. My response is to ignore it.. . . But why do you hope they listen?  Doesn’t every generation challenge the tastes of their elders?  My flag and bra burning, tie-dye and bell bottom wearing, free loving, status quo disdaining contemporaries mostly grew up to be conservative republicans.  Wait out this current young generation, ignore where the waistline of their pants falls to, and eventually they will age into us.  What is really worth paying attention to are the thoughts rattling around in their minds.

Andrea Philo – Norristown, PA ~ Our security put up signs:  Hoods Down, Pants Up. They monitor compliance.

Chris Truex ~  What’s with these kids, with their hula hoops and hippity-hop music!? Get a haircut! I don’t understand why some 13 year old girl can walk around in spandex with “Juicy” across the backside, and there are no policies for that, but seeing 2 inches of some kid’s boxer shorts causes a riot.  Why in the world does anyone care about kids sagging? I’m sure constantly hassling them about style will do wonders in terms of outreach.

Shahin Shoar ~ Let them be!  What I find not so pleasant is seeing half of someone’s back end hanging out when sitting on a chair or bending down to look at lower shelves;but hey that’s life, not everything is pleasant to my eyes!

Manya Shorr ~ Shouldn’t the issue be behavior and not dress? We really shouldn’t let our personal tastes get in the way of good public service.

Joseph N. Anderson – Logan, Utah ~ I’m surprised that this trend is back again. In the late 90s, I was one of those kids who probably disturbed the library staff with some of my fashion choices including sagging pants. Thankfully, the staff never turned it into a bad library experience for me.

Kevin Okelly – Somerville, MA ~ Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage.

Ann Hall ~  It should be behavior and not dress.

ConnieJo Ozinga ~ Kevin O’Kelly posted:  Ah yes, I’ve seen quite a lot of posterior cleavage. I don’t think you need sagging pants for this.  We have just finished an interior renovation/construction project and I saw way too much posterior cleavage from those crews.

Jo Choto – Frederick, MD ~ If obscenity laws aren’t contravened, I don’t see that it matters if young men want to waddle around like penguins.  Essentially, their butts are covered by something, whether it’s several sets of shorts or long shirts, so no harm, no foul.  I am more troubled by pre-teen/tween girls who are barely covered at all, though this isn’t such a big problem in the winter!

Darryl Eschete ~  If a kid’s pants are an obvious hindrance to his safe and proper movement, we will ask the kid to pull them up lest they trip and fall on the stairs. I personally have also asked kids who drag their feet (and untied shoes) to tie their shoes and walk correctly, as their shuffling steps make a lot of noise. Dress and behavior are related and can have this sort of complicated interplay. Pardon me. I meant “…lest *HE* trip and fall on the stairs.”

Heian Fashion

Heian Fashion

Kathleen Stipek ~ I think that it is a very bad idea to pass laws about the droopy drawers look.  Some young men are very concerned about the aesthetic of the look.  I have seen some wearing multiple layers of skivvies that are as carefully color-matched as a Heian lady’s sleeves dangling outside her screens.  I have also seen some that suggest to me that laundry soap is not part of a particular young man’s knowledge base.

If we truly want to lose this look, the law side is a bad one as are injunctions from elders which merely turn droopy drawers into a rebellion and perhaps even a matter of principle.   What we need will cost some money, but it will be brutally effective.  Young women whom these young men would love to impress need to be recruited and tested for loud, high-pitched, giggles.  Little groups of 2 or 3 should be posted strategically in any given area, and whenever they see some droopy drawers, they point, giggle, and shriek with laughter.  The young men may begin wearing their pants up around their armpits, but that’s a risk we have to take.  The young women will have to be paid something for each session, but the price and the shrieks will be worth it. Cruel, I know, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Julie Andrews ~ I’m not at all bothered by people with hoodies up. Half the population is walking around like that! It’s cold!!! Even if it’s not as cold indoors, it’s just easier to leave it up.Take it off and you have messy hair. Surely hood-head is a fashion faux pas too?

Tina Shelton – Carrollton, TX ~ I just have to comment because I saw a young man WAS wearing a belt on his saggy, baggy britches!  The shorts that show  are the top pair over a bottom pair of underwear. My question is why bother?  I have to be careful because every time I see this type of outfit, I just want to smirk loudly.

Prison Fashion

Prison Fashion

Chris Ely  ~ Why bother? It’s fashion. Though back when I was working at a place where part of my job was dealing with juvenile offenders. I was told by juvie officials that it began due to a prison having the bright idea to issue pants to prisoners that were too big, to reduce the number of fights and other incidents by keeping one hand occupied keeping their pants up. The thinking was the last thing most people would want to do in prison is drop trou.

Apparently it backfired and became an “I’ve done time” status symbol for former prisoners, then it bled over into just being cool. Not sure how accurate that story was, but it was nearly 20 years ago and the style is still out there. Each time I see it, I wonder how true that story was and what the teens and young adults who wear their pants halfway down to their knees would think if they knew the supposed story behind the fashion.

Sarah Jesudason  ~ This is the second reference to saggy pants being a “prison cred” thing I’ve seen today. But my mental image of what prisoners wear is jumpsuits, not jeans and shirts. Alrighty, who on PubLib has done time and wants to comment on their attire in the Big House?

Carolyn Rawles-Heiser – Corvallis, OR ~ Regarding prison attire–when I went on a tour of the Nevada State Prison a few years ago as part of a state commission, we were told not to wear denim because the prisoners wore denim jeans and blue workshirts, and if there were a riot or  disturbance, the guards would be able to pick the visitors out more easily (and not shoot us, I suppose).

Ancient Cowboy Templar Belt

Ancient Cowboy (Templar) Belt

Kathleen Stipek ~ I have seen young men sporting the droopy drawers look who accessorize with belts.  In a few cases, I have seen enormous cowboy-style buckles on those belts which seem to be pressing on what is, in most gentlemen, a very sensitive spot. I guess it is a willingness to suffer for fashion akin to a woman’s wearing 4-inch stilettos.  As someone who prefers to sacrifice style for comfort, I don’t get it, but then I don’t have to.  The entertainment value is enormous, and in these troubled times, a good giggle never hurt anybody.

Steve Benson ~ Sagging pants was a big issue for a recent Dallas, Texas mayor.  The link is to an article about it and includes picture of a billboard and a rap song from his campaign against sagging pants. http://www.npr.org/tablet/#story/?storyId=15534306

Jesse Ephraim  ~ It doesn’t bother me at all, as long as they are wearing underwear.  It’s not my job to police fashion trends.

Brenda McKinley – Newtown, CT  ~ I keep waiting for someone to request: Enough already, can we please drop the saggy pants?  On the other hand…I guess that’s the fear that started this whole thing.

Bessie Makris – Fort Wayne, IN ~ I think that librarians should also start wearing sagging pants.  Co-opt the style and teens will finally drop it. <g>

Emily Weak ~ I would imagine that whoever worries about injury liability at your library could get a “patrons need to wear shoes”  policy put in place, regardless of health code policy.

Moses and Joshua Bearing the Law

Thou Shalt Not Sag

Susan Pieper – Paulding, Ohio ~ This “sagging pants” thread makes me think of a joke our Pastor told at church this week.

A sixteen year old son wanted to borrow the family car. Father said, “Son, when you bring up your grades to a B average, and study your Bible more, and cut your hair, then we will talk about you using the car.” So, the son brought up his grades to a B average and started reading the Bible more. He went to his Dad and said,” Dad, I’ve been reading the Bible more and Samson had long hair, Noah and Moses had long hair, and there is reason to believe that Jesus had long hair.” To which the Dad replied, “Yes son, and to get around, they all walked.”

Jo Choto ~ Judging by the overwhelming response to sagging pants, may I suggest the following topics for another free for all:

  1. Patrons that leave a cigarette-stink on library items;
  2.  Patrons who ask for your help, then get on their cell phone but expect
    that somehow you continue to assist them;
  3. Patrons who stand in a line six or eight deep for some time, but wait
    until they reach the desk before spending 10 minutes looking for their
    library card;
  4. Patrons who fail to follow instructions for self check out and then
    complain that the machine doesn’t work.

Steve Benson ~  And furthermore . . . Men in green or red plaid golf slacks should be banned from public view as should older gentlemen who pull their slacks halfway up to their chin.

Robert Balliot – Bristol, RI ~ First they came  for the sagging pants, and I did not speak out because my pants did not sag . . .

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – December 2011

 Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for December 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Extracting the data from the archives became problematic in December.  The Publib listserve moved from Webjunction to OCLC and OCLC put the archives in an obscure space viewable only by listserve subscribers.  None of the archives are searcheable through the open web and must be viewed through a multi-step process.  Even subscribing to Publib has become convoluted – although members who had subscribed before were apparently migrated successfully to the new server.
 
Once you do reach the archives, they can be sorted by Date, Topic, and Author.  Big topics for December included: Favorite Reads of 2011 ,  reference stumpers ,  and Tax Season.
 
 
Publib Topics - December 2011

Publib Topics - December 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – November 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for November 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
 
Publib Topics November 2011

Publib Topics November 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – July 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for July 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been PublibPublib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
 
Publib Topics - July 2011

Publib Topics - July 2011

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Publib Topics – A Graphic Retrospective – April 2011

Beware Graphic Content Ahead!

 
This graphic image  or word cloud was created using Wordle. It is derived from the subjects and authors of postings in PubLib for April 2011. The size of the graphics is directly related to the number of un-weighted unique occurrences each month of the individual words represented. Most automated graphic processes that generate these types of word clouds use additional weight for H1 – H6 tags through feeds. These graphics are not processed with H1 – H6 tags. The titles and authors were copied to Notepad and stripped of all HTML before being run through the Wordle Java platform. The process is case-sensitive so Library is not the same thing as library.
 
The most prominent word without employing filters would have been Publib. Publib and Fwd were deleted from the plaintext files before processing. In addition, the Wordle program automatically disregards articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
 
Publib Topics April 2011

Publib Topics April 2011

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White Christmas

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Best of Publib ChristmasThe Great White Christmas Debate 

     or 

Have a Very Merry Something

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Librarian Debra Hiett queried the Publib List:

My adult planning librarian wants to show  the movie, White Christmas,  pass out lyrics for a sing-a-long, serve eggnog, hot chocolate and snacks. She wasn’t sure if it would be against library protocol, relating to a particular religion. I don’t think  White Christmas  is a religious movie and told her to go for it! (we do have a movie license)

Have any of you been challenged for anything similar to this?

To which the Publib Chorus responds:

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Nann Blaine Hilyard : Deb, I’d be more concerned that you have a public performance license to show the movie (or any movie, for that matter) than about the content – though White Christmas is about the secular holiday rather than the religious one.

Tom Cooper  : White Christmas seems like a pretty secular movie-and the song, unless I’m mistaken, was written by one of our greatest Jewish-American songwriters, Irving Berlin. Kind of a multi-cultural package in itself. I wouldn’t worry about it, but I don’t know your community. 

 James Casey  : And don’t forget that Danny Kaye (Kaminsky) was among the most popular Jewish-American stars of all time.   Although it is considered to be among the most famous Christmas movies, White Christmas is probably as much a Veterans Day film and generally appropriate for the November-December holidays.   The hardened, super slick show business performers show their reverence and appreciation for their old commanding General suffering hard luck after WWII.  There are plenty of unemployed Iraq-Afghanistan war veterans right now who might enjoy such a film where military service is shown affirmation and respect.

Darcey Mesaris  : You do need a license to show White Christmas. I believe that it is covered by MPLC-unfortunately, you can’t purchase a one time license from them, unless that has changed from the last time I checked with them. So, you would need to purchase a one year umbrella license.

Darcey Mesaris  : I work and live in a fairly religious area of the country. We are showing  Miracle on 34th Street ,   The Great Rupert  and  A Christmas Carol , with no objections from the community, at least no known objections at his point. 

Steven M Grochowsky  : So… *each* program held at the library must appeal to everyone?

Mnemosyne

Mnemosyne in Pagan Green

S Epstein   : I cannot speak to your library/regions policies or feelings about programming related to religion.  If you town/board doesn’t mind – it would not seem to be an issue.  That being said, if your town’board is an area that is sensitive to such issues – you should be prepared with a response.

But the real reason I’ve replied here, is that I’ve read the other responses and I am stunned.

White CHRISTMAS is NOT secular!!!!  Christmas is NOT, in any way under any circumstance a secular holiday!  EVER.

As librarians – please, please, please learn and understand this for those who are NOT Christian and do not celebrate Christmas! – Of which there are multiple groups ALL over the country (Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans.)

Diedre Conkling  : I think that it is not necessary to have every program for every group.  I don’t think that was the point.  I think the point was that Christmas is a Christian holiday.

That is not necessarily a problem.  It use to bug me that everyone seemed to assume that we all celebrate Christmas.  I don’t.  It is not part of my religion.  However, I have become more relaxed on a personal basis and just look at it as a folk or cultural holiday.   I give my friends who do celebrate the season gifts (and I give gifts on the gift giving holy days in my religion) and I eat their goodies. So these days I am less frustrated when everywhere I turn people are wishing me a happy, merry, fun, etc. holiday or Christmas.  Still, it should be recognized that it is a Christian holiday.

S Epstein  : I did not say that.  In fact – I said – check your local policy and do whatever you please :-)

What I am saying is to remember what things are.  Christmas is never secular.  

If we start calling Libraries, bookstores – there will no longer be libraries.  Librarians will be madder than wet cats when a library is called bookstore!  Rightly so – imho. Not all places with books are the same thing.
Not all holidays are secular.

Pamela Johnson  : Christmas is a cultural, rather than a religious, holiday for many, many people. In every public library I’ve worked in, we’ve had a tree and decorations for Christmas. Never once has a non-Christian complained about it. And I worked in one branch with a substantial non-Christian population. The only complaints I’ve had that relate to Christmas come from Christians who are offended because a member of staff wished them Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

 Jesse Ephraim  : 

>Christmas is never secular.

Easter Bunny Day

Easter Bunny Day

Just to be accurate, it is, for many people.  In fact, much of the imagery associated with it is pagan or secular in nature.  The same is true of Easter.  For example, I’m not Christian, but I celebrate  Santa Claus Day  and  Easter Bunny Day.  My home decorations (for both holidays) aren’t religious at all.

How Christmas decorations are viewed by non-Christian patrons is another matter.  I just object to saying that it is NEVER secular.

 >Still, it should be recognized that it is a Christian holiday.

I’m going to play the devil’s advocate here…

Many of the traditions, decorations, and means of celebrating Christmas have pre-Christian origins, and were absorbed into the Christian celebration as a means of making the process of Christianizing pagan cultures.  Some of those things have been absorbed into secular society, now, and have been “reclaimed” by neo-pagans.  The part of Christmas that is primarily Christian is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.  The rest of it came later, often from non-Christian or secular traditions.

It is a Christian holiday, but it is also a secular one.

Paula Laurita  : If the neo-Pagans have reclaimed aspects of Christmas, that doesn’t make them secular.  It makes them religious.

My staff is still dealing with the fact that there is no tree until after Thanksgiving, with the understanding it stays up through January 6th.  If we’re going to have a Christmas tree it stays up ALL THROUGH Christmas.  (Insert-evil-Catholic-plotting-to-take-over-the-world-laugh-here)

They now know that if someone mistakenly suggests having a Harvest Festival that I’m going to refuse to get nekkid, paint myself blue, and dance around a bonfire.  I’m not that evil.  They are more than welcome to do so if they can get the permits.

Joanna Price  : Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ- it is not a secular holiday. It can be celebrated in a secular fashion (see: American consumerism), but that does not make it a secular holiday.

Mary Soucie  : Since you have the license, I don’t see it as a problem as long as it fits with your community. We decorate both our libraries with Christmas decorations and do not get complaints. We also decorate for Halloween and Easter and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Independence Day and….. I do think that you need to match programs to your community and certainly not every program will appeal to all patrons.

You can buy a one-time license through Movie Licensing but if you’re going to show more the 3-4 movies a year, it usually makes sense just to get the annual license.

Christmas is both a Christian and a secular holiday. For Christians, it is certainly a religious holiday. For many non-Christians, it is a secular holiday and they just enjoy the other side of the season- the gift giving, cookie eating, Santa waving fun. For me, Christmas is very much a religious holiday. I have a Jewish friend whose mother-in-law goes all out with the non-secular part of Christmas from a trimming a tree to hanging stockings to Santa images everywhere.

I like Diedre’s attitude of accepting the parts of the season that make sense and not getting upset if someone wishes us a  Merry Something.

Kevin Okelly  :  I have  been pleasantly surprised at how civil this discussion has been.  It’s a Festivus miracle.

Charles Dickens

The Dickens you say

I am trying to get people to call it  Charles Dickens Day, without success. The modern Christmas celebration was invented by Dickens (with a little help from Prince Albert).

I expect my campaign to rename Christmas will meet with as little success as my campaign to get people to answer the phone by saying  Ahoy-Ahoy like Alexander Graham Bell did.

 

jjohnson at worthingtonlibraries.org  :  Alexander Graham Bell AND Montgomery Burns

Craig Haggit  : Yes, the “fist-fights in the parking lot” won’t come until the PLA Convention in March!

  ALPL  : I’ll bring the wine and folding chairs!  Screw cap wine only, we don’t want pointy objects around.

  Robin Shtulman  : However we want to define Christmas or secular, or religious, or pagan, it is important to recognize that Christmas is not a universal holiday, and that not all of our staff or patrons celebrate it.

Whether you choose to offer Christmas themed programming should be driven by whatever your library’s policies are.  Some libraries embrace all holidays in a spirit of community education, some opt to observe no holidays in an effort to remain neutral. Do what feels right for your community, be responsive to your staff & citizens, and just know that everyone thinks differently and do what needs to be done to make members of your community truly welcome in your library.

 Brock Peoples  : This is a great answer to this discussion. (Also, as someone else has pointed out, bonus points to all for the civility!)

The town my district is located in decorates for Christmas, including a nativity set on public property. “What feels right for your community” would make us amiss if we ignored the holiday. It is always important, though, to realize that not everyone shares warm and fuzzy feelings about Christmas, or may have very different traditions from the rest of the community. 
 

Bryan Bonfiglio  : Ahoy-Ahoy! everyone.
Just to keep this going, here are some more interesting facts about the date of Christmas and how it was chosen based on similar pre-Christian celebrations. Enjoy!

Attis in the Louvre

Attis in the Louvre

Roman Pagan Religion: Attis was a son of the virgin Nana. His birth was celebrated on DEC-25. He was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to mankind. He died about MAR-25, after being crucified on a tree, and descended for three days into the underworld. On Sunday, he arose, as the solar deity for the new season. His followers tied an image of Attis to a tree on “Black Friday,” and carried him in a procession to the temple. His body was symbolically eaten by his followers in the form of bread. Worship of Attis began in Rome circa 200 BCE.

Greek Pagan Religion: Dionysus is another savior-god whose birth was observed on DEC-25. He was worshipped throughout much of the Middle East as well. He had a center of worship in Jerusalem in the 1st century BCE. Some ancient coins have been found in Gaza with Dionysus on one side and JHWH (Jehovah) on the other. In later years, his flesh and blood were symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine. He was viewed as the son of Zeus, the Father God.

Egyptian Pagan Religion: Osiris is a savior-god who had been worshipped as far back as Neolithic times. “He was called Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods…the Resurrection and the Life, the Good shepherd…the god who ‘made men and women be born again’” 5 Three wise men announced his birth. His followers ate cakes of wheat which symbolized his body. Many sayings associated with Osiris were taken over into the Bible. This included:  23rd Psalm: an appeal to Osiris as the good Shepherd to lead believers through the valley of the shadow of death and to green pastures and still waters
Lord’s Prayer: “O amen, who art in heaven…”

23rd Psalm

XIII Psalm

Many parables attributed to Jesus. Worship of Osiris, and celebration of his DEC-25 birth, were established throughout the Roman Empire by the end of the 1st century BCE.

Persian Pagan Religion: Mithra was a Persian savior. Worship of Mithra became common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among the Roman civil service and military. Mithraism was a competitor of Christianity until the 4th century. Their god was believed to have been born on DEC-25, circa 500 BCE. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by gift-carrying Magi. This was celebrated as the  Dies Natalis Solic Invite,  The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.  Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He ascended to heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21.

The Babylonians celebrated their  Victory of the Sun-God  Festival on DEC-25. Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from DEC-17 to 23 in the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with a number of birth celebrations of savior Gods from other religions, into a single holy day: DEC-25. After much argument, the developing Christian church adopted this date as the birthday of their savior, Jesus. The people of the Roman Empire were accustomed to celebrating the birth of a God on that day. So, it was easy for the church to divert people’s attention to Jesus’ birth.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/xmas_sel.htm

Patricia Sutherland  : I have to agree with the ‘pick and choose’ perspective on Christmas.  After having lived in, and recently returned from, 4 years living in a conservative Middle East country, I am much more relaxed with how we ‘celebrate’ what are commonly thought of as religious holidays.  Santa Claus, trees, decorations and ‘Christmas Dinner’ events dominated the retail and recreation scene once Eid Al-Adha was over.

The library is a place of inclusiveness and diversity.  Holding Christmas-themed library programs shouldn’t be an issue, but it would be great if we also recognized, and provided a learning environment, for other cultural-based and religious traditions as they occur throughout the year.

Just my two (Canadian) cents LOL

Helen Rigdon  : I’m super happy to see that Festivus has made an appearance into this conversation.  Now that’s a holiday!

Per the fist fight viewing, I’ll bring the cooler!

Party on!

S Epstein  : First – let me say thank you to all of you who have written me off list with words of support and encouragement. 

Second, let me also apologize to those of you who were supportive, and I snapped at a bit – while this is not excuse, it is explanation -  I was snappish because…

Third, some people have saved their incivility for private. And to those of you – I say shame on you!

Last, I did not address the issue of if the program should occur or not – that is up to the library.

Tituba Teaching The First Act of Witchcraft

Tituba Teaching The First Act of Witchcraft

In this age where Wiccan programs are banned from libraries and jobs threatened if they are scheduled, programs led by Muslims are boycotted, snide comments made by library staff about Jewishish patrons — ALL of which I have heard about and witnessed in my state in the past year – I feel strongly that understanding of, respect for, consideration, and tolerance of religion are becoming more and more important.

I have attended Passover ceremonies – though I am not Jewish.  I have celebrated Ramadan though I am not Muslim. I’ve gone to Maybon festivities though I am not Pagan.

These are not secular holidays simply because I, 5 others 10 others or 10k others celebrate them non-religiously.

I celebrate the 4th of July not because I am particularly patriotic – I’m not, but I LIKE picnics and days off!  That doesn’t and shouldn’t change the reason for the holiday.

The fact that some people who are not religious still celebrate a religious holiday does not make that holiday secular.  To claim that holiday as secular, when it is a religious holiday can be very hurtful to both those
who believe and those who do not.

I am not saying people shouldn’t celebrate – I am saying it is important that people understand what things are, especially those of us who are looked to as knowledgeable.

Paula Laurita  : Su, Let me say ‘thank you’ for reminding us all that there religious basis for a variety of holy days and just because I don’t celebrate that aspect of the holy day doesn’t remove it’s meaning.

It reminds me of a friend who was upset that a rabbi, whom I worked with, gave me a Christmas present.  (A lovely chi necklace.)  He couldn’t ever understand that the rabbi was respecting my faith.  I would never give the rabbi a Christmas present, but did give him Hanukkah presents over the years.

Thank you again for reminding us that respect doesn’t mean denial.

Theyer, Hillary  : I was looking for the right words, and Pamela nailed it.  I’m not religious anything, don’t go to any church, and celebrate Christmas as a cultural holiday. My family’s Christmas traditions came from the Catholic/Christian/Mormon backgrounds of my grandparents, but we celebrated with the tree, presents, candles, singing, Santa, big family meal, new puzzle out on the coffee table, schmaltzy movie on the black and white television, as a family gathering … I mix up particular early Christmas memories with Thanksgiving memories a lot, and usually try to remember if there was a tree in the background to sort them out. 

Gypsies Chorus

Gypsies Chorus

We sang carols because they are beautiful songs, and singing together is fun.  The tree is fun to decorate and smells good.  I knew what the words to the carols meant, and of course knew the Christmas story, but the fact that we didn’t pray or go to church didn’t make a difference in celebrating. I also grew up with a bunch of friends with one Jewish and one Christian parent, and got invited to many Bat Mitzvah celebrations, First Communions, and such.  I knew I was missing the religious part, but was taught well to sit quietly, respect the ceremony, follow the rest of the group for standing/sitting, and know I was there for my friend/relative to celebrate something important in their life. 

Christmas is not a universal holiday.  Neither is Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc.  I married into a family with cultural ties outside the US, which makes Thanksgiving a non-issue as my side is the only side that celebrates it!  The keynote speaker at the California Library Association convention made a great deal about arriving from Britain and watching us celebrate Independence Day (his words “get over it already!”).  On the other hand, my English Grandmother couldn’t comprehend I didn’t have Good Friday off from school.  I’ve worked places with and without trees, with and without decoration/program prohibitions.  I used to worry about it, and now I don’t. The only complaint I have gotten was for a Christmas puppet show, and the parent was of a religion that didn’t celebrate holidays of any kind.  She was upset that we didn’t have anything for her child during school vacation, so I handed her the flyer for the “Winter” program where we read snow stories (in Southern California, which I think is a much stranger cultural clash, reading about sledding and such with kids who probably have never done that), and made snowmen out of cotton balls, etc.  She was fine.  I promised we would invite a puppet program that didn’t tie to a holiday again, which we did.  We offer stuff tied to holidays and stuff that isn’t.  I’ve worked with groups that pulled together a Vietnamese New Year Celebration (none of us were Vietnamese but our community was), Chinese New Year, Diwali, and Kwanzaa.  What we didn’t know we learned, and mostly people really appreciated the effort.

A Christmas Furlough

A Christmas Furlough

Jesse Ephraim  : The Santa Claus figure was derived from a number of sources, including Saint Nicholas, Odin, Krampus/Black Pete, various European folk figures, Thomas Nast, Clement Clarke Moore, Coca-Cola, L. Frank Baum, and more.

We are way off the original subject by now, though, so we are probably all going to have to agree to disagree.

Joanna Price  : The problem with this is as follows (I’ll just be honest):

Considering Christmas as a secular holiday is a privilege that belongs to the majority of the United States, because the majority of Americans come from some form of Christian background. I’m not talking about one’s parents, but 100 years ago, there were no atheists.

I come from a Jewish background, and my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because it’s not a secular holiday– it’s a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. Indicating that it’s secular, e.g., not religious at all, doesn’t alienate people who celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, and it doesn’t alienate people who celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday. It alienates people who don’t celebrate Christmas at all (i.e. me), because if you argue Christmas is secular, you argue that there’s no reason why I shouldn’t celebrate it (see: be “normal”). In fact there’s a good reason why I don’t celebrate it, and it’s fairly disrespectful to argue that I should consider a holiday that belongs to another religion secular because of the discomfort atheists have with relating their Christmas celebrations to its’ roots.

Now whether a public library should have Christmas programming or not depends on the community, e.g. who is paying taxes that keep the place open, and what their needs and expectations are. But don’t call Christmas secular in order to justify having Christmas programming in your library. It’s not only unnecessary, it’s alienating.

John Wylder  : But “Santa Claus” is just short for “Saint Nicholas,” and even “Kris Kringle,” as I understand it, is a corruption of the German for “Christ Child.”

Xmas in the US has become a battleground of the culture wars, and I fear there is no longer any neutral or safe ground.  Whatever you do will leave you open to attack from one quarter or another, whether you acknowledge the holiday or not, so make your decision and, if I can quote Martin Luther here, Sin boldly no matter what you ultimately do.  Or, as my grandmother used to put it, “You pays your nickle, and you takes your chances.”

 Jesse Ephraim  :

>I’m not talking about one’s parents, but
>100 years ago, there were no atheists.

Sure there were.  There were atheists in ancient Greece, even.

>my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas
>because it’s not a secular holiday– it’s a
>holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ

What does Santa Claus, pine trees, gift-giving, elves, and reindeer have to do with Christianity?

>It alienates people who don’t celebrate Christmas
>at all (i.e. me), because if you argue Christmas is
>secular, you argue that there’s no reason why
>I shouldn’t celebrate it (see: be “normal”).

There are a number of holidays in the U.S. that I don’t celebrate.  I don’t feel any pressure to do so.

>In fact there’s a good reason why I don’t celebrate it,
>and it’s fairly disrespectful to argue that I should consider
>a holiday that belongs to another religion secular because
>of the discomfort atheists have with relating their Christmas
>celebrations to its’ roots.

You can think of it in any way you like.  The point is that it IS a secular holiday for many people, and not just atheists and agnostics.

If you want to talk about the roots of Christmas celebrations, they don’t lie in Christianity.  They are in the folk beliefs and pagan religions of Europe. 

Bryan Bonfiglio  :  Agreed, perhaps not the best Website to quote from, but these facts are repeated and studied over and over in academic circles.

http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/kingpapers/article/volume_i_29_november_1949_to_15_february_1950g/

Wendy Wright  : Remaining “holiday-neutral” may be less time-consuming for library staff, but consider all the extra circ. opportunities that themed displays offer. Holiday events and displays also keep the library looking “fresh” for regular customers. Why not promote as many diverse occasions throughout the year as possible? While events are not always feasible, a display costs little. I think the film event is a great way to generate a sense of fun and energy in your library, and would be tempted to have displays of other winter holiday materials up at that time if you are worried about any group feeling excluded.

Toga, toga

Toga! Toga!

Two ideas for non-religious themed displays or events at this time of year are the Winter Solstice and ancient Rome’s Saturnalia festival. (Toga party, anyone?) I have two small children, and our family celebrates the Solstice rather than Christmas, but we would hardly expect Christians to suppress visible manifestations of their holiday! I’ve begun teaching my four-year-old Latin and have a foggy notion of using Saturnalia as a way of exploring ancient Roman culture next year while having lots of fun decorating and feasting. I suppose an elementary school library or homeschooling group would be more appropriate for this type of programming… But perhaps in a public library one Storytime in December could have a multicultural “Winter Festival” theme (Christmas, Chanukah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, Solstice etc.), with or without themed craft activities  afterwards.

Any excuse for a celebration, I say!

TARDIFF, ANTHONY  : Yes, I know that the Attis connection, at least, is problematic. Professor Andrew T. Fear of the University of Manchester wrote an essay called “Cybele and Christ” about the relationship between the old Cybele/Attis cult and Christianity. His conclusion was the opposite: that the Cybele cult was influenced by Christianity and that it developed, whether consciously or unconsciously, to be a pagan answer to the dominant religion of the time (Fear, A. “Cybele and Christ.” In Cybele, Attis & Related Cults: essays in honour of M. J. Vermaseren, Brill, 1996). You can find a good portion of his essay at http://books.google.com/books?id=T1nmUY70OzEC&lpg=PA37&dq=%22Cybele%20and%20Christ.%22%20in%20Cybele%2C%20Attis%20and%20Related%20Cults&pg=PA41#v=onepage&q&f=false.

My undergrad is history, and while that does not make me an expert, it did teach me that history is rarely “pat.” Our attitude towards history today seems often to be that it is in the past and so does not matter, unless we can bring up an oversimplified version to support a specific viewpoint. We tend to get a lot of sound bite history these days, History Channel history, “Everyone knows” history (e.g. “Everyone knows Columbus was trying to prove the earth was round”). Actual history is far more complex, nuanced, and, frankly, interesting than that. History once was, after all, the present, and is just as messy and fascinating as the present is today. So I am rather suspicious whenever anyone tosses off some “history” to justify a viewpoint, unless they really delve into it, show their research and their sources, and present a picture that is more than just a blurb.

Robert Ingersoll

Ingersol the Infidel

Jennifer Armistead  :  Not to be nitpicky, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to argue with you that 100 years ago “there were no atheists.” Right off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Robert Ingersoll, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Aphra Behn, Tom Paine, and I know there are many more. It’s true that during the 19th century there was a surge in professed atheism in Western society, as shown in Without God, Without Creed by James Turner, but atheists and agnostics have existed probably since there were humans, and have been documented since early Greek civilization.
Sorry to go OT. Carry on!

Jeff Imparato  : I’m sure it makes my Pagan friends happy when they see the Yule tree, decorated this time of year.

HARMON-MYERS Margaret  : Aside from library involvement, I think there are differences between “celebrating”, observing, or acknowleging .  I am not religious but don’t find offensive, nor would I try to restrict, the observation by others of any religious day.  Christmas is not secular, per se, but it is a deeply entrenched part of our culture; for some it is strictly cultural, for some primarily religious, but one does not preclude the other and both deserve respect.  And religious does not just mean Christian (Jesus’ birth, etc.)

We have personal choice, and feeling offended is a choice.  I don’t want to deny the public arena to a component of our culture, our ethos, because people interpret or observe it in different ways.  The library, as part of the culture, can bring the community together by having something like a giving tree which allows people to take a tag from it to purchase a toy or clothes for those in need.  We can also welcome other community organizations to bring in something for display for visitors to enjoy, or ignore if that is their choice.

Rawles-Heiser, Carolyn  : At my library, the only thing we do for Christmas is the Friends put out some pointsettias and we gather holiday kids’ books–including all the holidays around this time of year.  Oh, and we close on Christmas.

I do celebrate Christmas and I personally consider it a religious holiday.

Poinsettia

However, looking at this from the persepctive of people who do not,  think about what it is like to see Christams decorations, hear Christmas music, see Christmas ads and shows on tv, have stores full of stuff to buy, have Christmas activities at Scouts, school, etc. everywhere you go ad nauseum for at least 1/12 of the year.     For those of us who do celebrate Christmas, it wears thin enough!  

Think how nice it would be to go into one public place that is free of all of that and how much you would appreciate it.  Think about how nice it would be not to have to tell your kids you are skipping storytime for  a month to avoid Christmas programs.      You would certainly feel a lot less marginalized.    It seems to me that as one of the most inclusive and neutral institutions in  our society, that is a valuable thing the library can provide.

Dohrn, Terry  : Look up the definition of the word “Christmas”. Almost everywhere you check you will find that the definition is some variation of “a celebration of the Christian Church commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ”.  

Merry Christmas! I love these discussions we have!

Debra Hiett  : WOW!!!

I am astonished, pleasantly so, at all the responses my question generated.
So far, no one has stated they were challenged for showing the movie, “White Christmas.”

Of course, that does not mean that we won’t!  If we are challenged or receive complaints I will let you know.  We will show the movie, and had planned on showing the movie, and I will keep my fingers crossed.  If we are challenged this group has provided me with lots of ammunition. Thank you for all your postings!

Chris Rippel  : Dear Colleagues,

> 100 years ago, there were no atheists.
Actually, there were a number of atheists and agnostics 100 years ago.

The most famous American atheist at that time was Robert G. Ingersoll
(1833 – 1899).

I think there is evidence that more people and books 100 years ago than now
claimed Jesus was a mythical figure made up by early Christians.

Kevin Okelly  : I don’t know about “more than now,” but the America of the past was certainly a much more religiously diverse place than people currently give it credit for being. As many of you probably know, a number of the Founding Fathers (e.g., Jefferson, Washington, Franklin) were Deists (i.e., theists who believed in a rather hands-off God and rejected the notion of the divinity of Christ.)

Sarah Howison  : 

>We have personal choice, and feeling offended is a choice.

Maybe this is off-topic, but this statement doesn’t seem right to me. It takes the blame from the person who gave the offense and puts it on the offended party.

If someone makes a racist/sexist/off-color joke and it offends me, is it my fault that I am offended, or the fault of the person who told the joke? In a lot of cases, offense is not intended, but it does happen, and when it does, it’s worth discussing. The idea that someone should “lighten up” or just “deal with it” (both comments I have received in the past) is…well, kind of offensive to me. ;)

No, a person doesn’t have the right to go through life without being offended, but they do have the right to express their opinions, including whether something, be it a joke or a certain library program, offends them.

…But, that’s just my opinion. I promise, I mean no offense. :)

chickens

Cluck, Cluck, ClucKEE!

Janet Lerner  :  Hello all,

I haven’t worked in public libraries for over ten years, and can’t believe that you’re still cluck-clucking over Christmas.

No one except the profoundly mentally ill worries about this kind of stuff anymore.

Move on…

Diedre Conkling  : 

> It is sad to see that what was a very civil discussion with differing
> points of view is now leaving that realm and is on the verge, if not
> slightly beyond the verge (can something be beyond the verge?), of name
> calling and uglyness.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.  It must be time to end the discussion.

Pamela Johnson  : It’s important to distinguish between offense intended and offense taken. Sometimes a comment is ignorant, but not unkindly meant. If you take offense at every ignorant but well-meaning comment that comes out of somebody’s mouth, you do yourself as well as the other person a disservice.

Bridget Krejci  : Can we please agree to disagree regarding Christmas and programing? We really do not need to hear everyone religions beliefs

S Epstein  : WOW…. this was terribly offensive and insulting.  Enough in fact to make me consider leaving Publib.  I would prefer to not know this is the state of our profession. Or maybe we need to go back to a moderate list?

(Janet – I think an appology is due for calling people who have religious beliefs menally ill – which even if was not your intent – was the message.)

Darryl Eschete  : All: I’d say this discussion has devolved to the point where it is all heat and no light. I’d also say that discussing it any further would be superfluous and that this will become more uncivil, now that this sort of door has been
opened.

Darrell Cook   : Didn’t get THAT message at all. Janet shouldn’t have to apologize for anything. I don’t think her post was any where near “offensive and insulting.” Much less “terribly.”

The only thing terrible here is the PhD’s spelling.

Steve Benson  : I didn’t think it was offensive either — just stupid.  This has been an interesting discussion ranging from the how-we-do-it to historical background.  What is expected and welcomed in one local might get you run out of town in another.  Doesn’t seem as if the writer at issue is a part of the profession any longer.  Her own words make this clear.  Perhaps this is why she has missed the new tech innovation that librarian 2.0′s know off — the delete key if you tire of a conversation.

Happy holidays everyone

Wylie, Alan  : Could have done without the ‘mentally ill’ bit but i do tend to agree with her! Libraries closing or being privatised, redundancies galore and we have a long drawn out discussion about xmas!!!

Judy Anderson  : I found it offensive that someone is using mental illness as an insult. That’s grossly inappropriate. That calls for an apology.I also think some of the “older” librarians (meaning having been around a long time) forget that there are new people out there who haven’t come across the issue before. And laws change constantly and there are trends that change constantly. My first job out of library school was as a director. These issues often aren’t discussed in library school and people need answers.

It’s also helpful to get the take and experience of wide range of people because you never know what will come up. Who would have thought that people respecting other religions (or those with no religion) and avoiding the violation of the first amendment would be considered to be conducting a war on Christmas. That’s a relatively new topic.

And really, we are librarians. It doesn’t seem appropriate for us to be insulting anyone for asking a question we’ve heard before. Isn’t that kind of what our jobs are about, at least in reference?

(Side note. I don’t think it was an attack on people of faith, but an attack on someone for asking what should or shouldn’t be done about Christmas in libraries.)
 

US National Christmas Tree 1923

The US National Christmas Tree - 1923

John Richmond  :  Just back from Kansas for the Thanksgiving holiday, where I worshiped several immense turkeys and a few hams, besides.  Though I saved my most rapturous rapture for pecan pie.  (For some reason, none of my relatives was thoughtful enough to supply mincemeat this year, with or without real meat.  Or unreal meat, I suppose.)  So I am late getting into this, but I am reminded that just about the first post to publib I ever, well, posted–if not *the* first–had to do with Christmas, and I received MANY indignant comments from publib folks who were appalled–**appalled**, I tell you–to think that we had a *Christmas* tree in our library.I *tried* to explain that I was in East Texas, and that not to have a Christmas tree in the library’s foyer would have been tantamount to committing career (my career, that is) suicide, but some still didn’t get it.  Ah, well.  Back here, up north in Illinois–in East TX, usually pronounced “Ill-uh-noiZZZZZZ”–we still have a Christmas tree. We put it to good use, inviting the public to decorate the tree with mittens, gloves, scarves, and hats for child-size people, which we then deliver to a charitable outfit in the library district. Sometimes we call it an “angel tree,” and I am mostly theologically mute on the subject of angels.  Which probably is all right, as the fervor over angels seems to have diminished from what it was a few years back, when *everyone* was writing a book about angels.When I was in seminary, the “Advent police” sometimes came around to see if fellow seminarians were putting up Christmas decorations and listening to Christmas music in their rooms while the all-too-short season of Advent was upon us.  That’s a whole ‘nother story….Shahin Shoar  : Libraries have to have established practices in place when it comes to these things.  Many academic libraries have done away with celebrating any holidays, religious or not, by decorating their buildings, desks, or rooms.  Public libraries could do the same.   However, since we are more and more a community center rather than just a place to read or check out items, we have to reflect what our communities expect or want.  There is nothing wrong with acknowledging Christmas or any other holiday for that matter.  Libraries often have educational and fun programming going on including history of different holidays.  What should not happen is ignoring other holidays which means ignoring people in the community who celebrate holidays other than Christmas.  Yes, academic libraries are over all of this, they serve a different clientele, we still serve little kids who get excited about little things like doing crafts and singing songs.

 

New York Public Library Christmas Tree

Best of PubLib Editor – Robert Balliot investigating the placement of an actual Christmas Tree at the New York Public Library.

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Have a very Merry Something!

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Best of Publib – Dream Teams 2011 Entry Forms

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Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Teams – 2011

Dear Best of Publib Readers:

The Editor’s of Best of Publib want to know who you think should be on the first ever annual Best of Publib – Librarian Dream Teams.

We are looking for nominations for two teams:

Team 1: The Best of Publib Real World Public Library Dream Team – (anyone who has worked in / with a public library qualifies)

Team 2: The Best of Publib Fantasy Public Library Dream Team – (anyone living or dead or unliving)

Official Entry Form:  

 http://oceanstatelibrarian.com/BestofPublibRealWordDreamTeam_2011.xls

(forms do not need to be filled out completely – if you only want to nominate a Director, Trustee or Mascot – each entry will count)

Please return by January 8th to

bestofpublib@gmail.com

In this world of economic uncertainly and tough times for libraries – who would you want to fill the positions of:

  • Director
  • Assistant Director
  • Marketing/Communications Director
  • Head of Technology
  • Head of Circulation
  • Head of Cataloging / Technical Services
  • Head of Reference
  • Youth Services / Children’s Librarian
  • three Reference Librarians
  • two Circ Desk Staff
  • two stacks
  • 4 trustees
  • Library Mascot

Fantasy Librarian

Think about who you would like to work for/ with. What personnel would represent the pinnacle of Librarianship and library services? Who rocks at reference? Who directs like no other? Which trustees are trustworthy? Who will be number 1?

The top five nominees for each position will receive recognition in January in a special edition of Best of Publib. Those top entries will be presented for a vote by all of the Best of Publib Readers to determine the ultimate 2011 Real World and Fantasy Librarian Dream Teams.

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