Sunday, July 13, 2008

Posters at the Library

Recently, I walked into my local library branch, and to my surprise the first thing I see is a huge poster for the movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" draped over the information desk. Then, when I was sitting at the study desk at the rear of the library minding my own business, I look up and see another huge poster of the movie hanging from the ceiling.

I have a serious problem with the library displaying advertisement for any commercial product or enterprise regardless of the material. I believe firmly that the library has a duty to the public to be apolitical, balanced, and neutral. I do not know if the library was paid to hang these posters, but I suspect they were, which would make the deal even worse. Even if they were not paid, my principle still stands.

The library simply can't allow itself to get involved in advertising for any entity that profits, know matter how lofty the company's goals, because it's a slippery slope of sponsorship. Once the library chooses to advertise something, they make a choice to take sides with whatever the product, issue, or entity advertised and all the corresponding political, social, and cultural representations of those products, entities, and issues. When dollars are involved, that choice benefits another party, and represents influence, and the possibility of shaping the library's agenda. For example, I don't care if the movie had a message of peace, love, understanding, share your toys, reads lots of books, treat adults with respect, and eat your vegetables - the problem is that it still has a message, and someone is making money off of that message. The library's agenda should be only one thing - to provide a broad, balanced, and neutral public resource for people of all ages. Ideally (and it's increasingly becoming possible) you would be able to go to the library and choose any book or publication ever produced, and thus the library can never be accused of "choosing sides" based on the materials they choose to put in their collection. I don't mind that they have Ann Coulter books in their collection, as long as they have Michael Moore to balance her, and Thomas Friedman to balance both of them.

Plus, kids are young and impressionable, and parent's shouldn't have to feel pressured to take their kids to the movies when visiting the library. I would prefer if they would just stick with the READ posters and bulletins for community (non-profit) events.

Speaking of their bulletin board, I once tried to hang a flyer for advertising for my own personal care assistants. I would not be personally benefiting financially from hiring someone (besides the greater ability to get a job with proper support) and I felt my ad should qualify for their community bulletin board, but I was denied. At the same time, I noticed an advertisement for an agency that provides home health care workers for the elderly - an agency I knew was a profit agency - and I promptly notified them of the misplaced flyer.

I will be writing the head librarian, and possibly the county commission, to let them know how I feel about the movie poster. I'll let you know how that goes.


Brenda LoneStarr said...

I agree with you! I also am a touch jealous that you can get into your library since my husband can't get into ours... but more on that later. (n.b. I am the blogworld alter-ego of a pioneers poster whom you know, please don't use my real name here!).

Nick said...

That is BS that they wouldn't allow you to post your attendant ad.

But if the movie poster is the worst offense you've seen lately, you must be doing really well! :P

Srikanto Bormon said...

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