Freedom tastes of reality
Then the power went out at work pretty much all day today. (Again. I will not comment on our service level from the local electric utility, but this shirt sums it up pretty well.) When the lights go out, we clear the building. So there's a level on which our whole collection was "banned" for most of the day by this power outage.
That level says a lot about librarianship as a "profession." A profession is supposed to have a shared, encoded value system. It's not just a task you do, it's the things you believe and the way those things make you see the world. (And, of course, sometimes those things should be stated as simply as possible.)
For some of us, that makes everything about intellectual freedom. Whether the library is open or closed determines whether the ideas in it are available or not. We try to design circulation policies to help people do the work they need to do without monopolizing a scarce resource. We try to catalog to make ideas accessible and we try to answer reference questions in a way that allows users to find their own answers. We do this because we believe that it's what makes science and art and learning and democracy work.
Of course, sometimes the balancing act is tricky, particularly when you consider that I'm not the most radical librarian out there. Not hardly. I've heard catalogers argue that their added level of access justified a 2 year backlog of material. (Not at my current job, thank God.) Back in the mid-'90s, we gave ourselves quite the black eye by arguing the hard line on censorship. I still believe that the Internet should be a completely free speech zone, and that most libraries should include some sexually explicit material. That said, I also don't think that everything is appropriate for the Children's Room, and arguing as if it were made us look as bad as Dr. Laura and her friends looked to us.
It's easy to say you're against "banning books." It gets tricky when we talk about this book in this place for these people. It gets sticky when we talk about loan periods and fines and reserves and reference and archives. It gets all messed up when we talk about hours and space and services and budgets.
But this is our quest.
If we want free libraries and bookstores, we need to get people talking about what that means. We need to listen to all segments of our communities, on both the concrete and the abstract.
That's why I keep bringing it up. My readers are smart, passionate, involved people. You are who we need to talk to. You are the backers we need, and the constituents we need to hear from.