Jim Scheppke, book lover and former Librarian for the State of Oregon, has done a great job at stimulating citizens to speak out about the Salem Public Library's misguided effort to purge tens of thousands of books from its core collection.
Here's Scheppke's report about last night's Library Advisory Board meeting at the library's Anderson Room that he posted on the Save Our Books Facebook page.
BOOKS WIN A REPRIEVE — FOR NOW
Thanks to a standing room only turnout of book lovers and supporters, the Library Advisory Board decided last night to continue the suspension of "the big weed" (as the library staff calls it) until their next meeting on February 13th.
About 90 people packed the Anderson Room and about 30 of them spoke strongly in opposition to the mass book removal project that was ordered by library management in September, but was suspended after concerns were expressed by Salem City Councilors in December.
Most of the attendees speaking in favor of "the big weed" were librarians from other cities defending their professional prerogatives. Many long time Salem citizens including a former City Councilor spoke passionately about what was happening at our library. Some brought books that they had purchased for pennies on the dollar at the Friends bookstore that they believed belong in our library.
So our advocacy won a reprieve, but the controversy continues.
Remarks from library management indicate they have no plans to back off their plan to remove thousands of books from our library. If you want to help us, please mark your calendar for Wednesday, February 13th, when the Library Advisory Board is expected to render a final recommendation on "the big weed."
The Salem Reporter has a story about the Library Advisory Board meeting, "Salem library to pause review another month following lengthy public hearing."
I'm not sure whether Library director Sarah Strahl is a habitually optimistic person, or if she's skilled at putting a positive spin on a negative situation, but this quote from her in the Salem Reporter story is decidedly amusing -- given the amount of opposition to Strahl's book removal policy expressed by citizens last night.
Debate that was sometimes contentious and sometimes poetic lead to the shelving for at least a month of a rigorous review of library books.
...City Librarian Sarah Strahl said she was happy to see so many people asking questions about the library. At least 80 people attended the meeting.
“It’s good to see people so engaged with the library,” she said. “You’re always happy to see that.”
Strahl's comment reminded me of what Trump tweeted about the January 2018 Women's March protests against him and his flawed policies.
Likewise, most of the people at last night's Library Advisory Board meeting weren't there to merely "engage with the library." Rather, they were protesting Sarah Strahl's book removal efforts.
It would have been nice if Strahl had made more of an effort to understand the concerns of Scheppke and the many others who don't like the notion of the Salem Public Library becoming more like a bookstore and reading room, and less like a place where the collected literary wisdom and creativity of many decades, centuries even, can be found.
I speak as someone who wrote a book about the teachings of Plotinus, a 3rd century Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, called "Return to the One." Not many people are interested in reading about Plotinus. But he was a hugely influential thinker and mystic. Early Christians appropriated his Platonic ideas to flesh out their theology.
So I'm biased toward having books at the Salem Public Library that deserve to be in the core collection for reasons other than how frequently they are checked out.
Hopefully Strahl and her staff will come to see that the arguments of Scheppke and others who testified last night have a lot of merit, and will modify their so-called "big weed" of library books.
In this PDF file you can read seven reasons Scheppke puts forward for why the current book removal policy of the Salem Public Library is seriously flawed.
Download Stop the Book Removal (Rev.)
Here's my previous posts about this subject:
Salem Public Library removing 30% of print book collection. Resistance is mounting.
Library expert criticizes "core book" policy of Salem Public Library
Battle of the Books continues with Salem Public Library on defense