Well, a few days ago the title of my blog post was a bit off.
I said "Final skirmish at hand in Salem Library 'Battle of the Books.'" But at last night's City Council meeting, a motion proposed by Councilor Chris Hoy passed unanimously.
It puts the so-called Big Weed book removal effort on hold until the end of June, most likely. Here's how the leader of the Big Weed opposition, Jim Scheppke, put it in an email he sent out today.
Dear Library Supporters:
On his Save Our Books at Salem Public Library Facebook page, Scheppke also shared a short video of remarks Hoy made at the council meeting. This was the description of the video:
Thanks to Councilor Chris Hoy for his leadership last night to put off resumption of the Big Weed for a least a couple of months. We hope he will continue to excercise leadership to reach a compromise that would bring together what he sees as the "two visions" for the future of the library.
One vision involves mass book removal, as was happening last fall, to create what library management and the Library Advisory Board see as a "dynamic" popular materials library.
Our vision is not the opposite of that, despite how it has been mischaracterized.
We want a dynamic popular materials library too, but we also want what is stated in the Collection Development Policy: "a broad choice of materials to meet informational, educational, cultural, and recreational needs." This cannot be achieved if the Big Weed resumes.
Why can't both "visions" be brought together? Maybe Councilor Hoy can work on that.
Troy Brynelson wrote a Salem Reporter story, scooping the Statesman Journal, which hasn't so far. Check out "Salem library review to return to Salem City Council this summer." Excerpts:
A dispute over Salem Public Library’s review of some of its books, which some feared would lead to a purge, could be resolved this summer.
Salem City Council on Monday directed library staff to continue only removing adult non-fiction titles that are in poor condition, retaining the rest, until at least June. Library staff will start work on a new report in May showing how the staff decide to keep, mend or discard books.
The new report would then go before the citizen-led Library Advisory Board and back to Salem City Council.
...After the motion passed, Jim Scheppke, a former director of the State Library of Oregon and a vocal opponent of the review, told Salem Reporter the motion was a “partial victory” because the review remains paused.
Three members of the advisory board, however, said they did not understand why the issue is going back to the board. In February, the board voted unanimously to recommend staff resume the review.
“We already made a recommendation,” said Lois Stark, board member. “Now they’re asking us to make another recommendation and I don’t understand.”
Hmmmm. Likely I'll have more to say about Stark's comment in another post.
Briefly, the Library Advisory Board, like almost all volunteer boards, appears to have been captured by full-time staff. Meaning, the LAB isn't capable of thinking independently, because they're used to doing the bidding of library staff.
I realize this might sound overly critical, but it's how I see the situation.
The same thing tends to happen with the City Council, a volunteer "board" dependent on City of Salem staff. Staff typically want to keep on doing what they've been doing, because they're comfortable doing it.
Yet obviously there is much more general knowledge and expertise among the citizenry in our city of about 170,000, than there is in City of Salem staff.
So while it makes sense for volunteer boards to lean on staff for direction in many cases, the Library Advisory Board should keep an open mind when well-informed citizens present views that differ from those of staff.
OK, I wasn't all that brief. I do have more to say on this subject, though. Another time...