Arizona Librarian Fired for Push to Keep Libraries Apolitical

The Washington Free Beacon reports that an Arizona librarian was fired after he called for libraries to be apolitical spaces.

According to the Beacon, “In July, Arizona librarian Ron Kelley received an email from the American Library Association—the largest librarian association in the world—soliciting individuals to join the Black Lives Matter movement. Kelley, replied to the list-serve with an email titled “Keep Politics Off This Discussion Group,” in which he argued that libraries should remain neutral and apolitical. Following two complaints to the Flagstaff Library regarding his email, Kelley was fired from his job.”

Prior to Kelley’s removal from the position he had served for nine years, the American Library Association instructed employees to embrace “critical librarianship,” which asks libraries and librarians to analyze how they “consciously and unconsciously support systems of oppression.” Its core tenet is that neutrality harms oppressed groups. As one Portland librarian put it in the American Libraries magazine, remaining neutral as a librarian “upholds inequality and represents indifference to the marginalization of members of our community.,” The Beacon reports.

In an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, Kelley said this idea was wrongheaded.

“Our job as librarians is to provide access to information from all points of view, and let people make up their own minds,” he said. Critical librarianship is “rejecting neutrality in the library. This goes against what the premise of a free society and what a library should be.”

In recent years the American Library Association also attacked “the gender binary” as an outdated, oppressive concept. According to the Free Beacon’s report, the organization promotes “drag queen story hours” across the nation and calls for maintaining “queer and trans of color archives” and “naming and calling out microaggressions.”

Kelley told the Free Beacon he was puzzled as to why a drag-queen story hour can take place in a public library but that defending viewpoint neutrality leaves him without a job.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met and married an American journalist and moved to D.C. from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A. in Graphics, Media, and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Jompran

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