Back in November 2018 Jim Scheppke issued a battle cry to book lovers: the decimation of the Salem Public Library's print collection must be met with fierce resistance.
Since, I've followed the exploits of Scheppke and his band of outraged library users with much admiration.
They've been both relentless and reasonable in their efforts to understand why Strahl and her compliant Library Advisory Board feel it's OK to markedly reduce the number of books -- which, according to Scheppke's seemingly solid research, already is quite a bit less than what a city of Salem's size should have in its library.
My impression is that Strahl and Co. have been unwilling to engage with critics of her book retention policies in any substantive manner. This seems decidedly at odds with how a supposedly fact-based librarian should operate.
Next Monday, April 22, the City Council will be discussing the library's Collection Development Policy, a more genteel term for the Big Weed.
No, wait... I misspoke.
Actually the City Council agenda item doesn't say there will be a discussion of the highly controversial Collection Development Policy. Instead, members of the City Council are supposed to be treated to an informational report of what's been going on.
Entirely appropriately, Scheppke is calling out Norm Wright, the Community Development Director who oversees the library, for Wright's attempt to sideline the City Council's legal responsibility to determine how the library operates.
Today Scheppke sent out this email:
Dear Library Supporters:
Hey, of course us Library Supporters are interested in the correspondence.
On March 6, Scheppke wrote this to Wright:
I am sorry to hear that the motion passed by the LAB at their last meeting is being interpreted as sanctioning the resumption of the book removal project. In my opinion this is not consistent with the Salem Revised Code.According to the Salem Revision Code the LAB can only make recommendations to Council on library policy matters. So when the LAB approved a motion to resume implementation of the Collection Development Policy, that must be interpreted as a recommendation to the Council according to SRC 18.050(a).I believe proper course of action would be to take the recommendation of the LAB to the Council on April 8th for Council action to accept the recommendation or to do otherwise.I hope you will reconsider this in light of my comments. I will be in town on April 8th and would look forward to speaking to the Council about this.Thanks for sharing this information with me,Jim
Also on March 6, Wright responded to Scheppke:
Sorry, I could have been more precise with my words. We are in agreement. The LAB motion was indeed to *recommend* resuming the implementation. I could have written that fully in my email instead of just writing "the LAB motion".Council can certainly decide to accept it or provide a different policy direction. The report will be written for that very purpose.
Hope that helps.
But today Scheppke said this:
Norm: I am sorry to see in the Council agenda for Monday night that what you told me below is not what is happening. The LAB recommendation is “information only.” This is wrong. The LAB Bylaws are clear:I hope you will see that this mistake is corrected and that the LAB recommendation is moved to Action Items, where it rightfully belongs.Jim
Hopefully this will occur at next Monday's City Council meeting. It's ridiculous that City staff are trying to get away with making this an Informational Report agenda item.
There needs to be extensive discussion of what Scheppke learned about through public record requests made to the City of Salem: 3,334 books have been removed from the library so far, with many more to come if the Big Weed isn't stopped. A few days ago he emailed me this: