So last night I went to the citizens' board appointment thing at City Hall, looking to get reappointed. Which I want desperately. It gives me meaning and a sense of accomplishment in life, that Lord knows I don't get through work or my personal life. I want back in.
The CEO was there, greatly appreciated that I came down, and told me that I "have nothing to worry about". Which is a great cause of worry to a worrywart like me. Being told I have "nothing to worry about" is a surefire guarantee of being disappointed. (Case in point, my admission to Concordia's PhD program, where I was told I have "nothing to worry about", AND was given the finger gun, AND was given the elbow grasp during the handshake, but still was rejected. Not that I'm still bitter. (OK, I'm still bitter.))
Anyway, there was a woman there who was monopolizing a lot of the CEO's time. Well-educated (she claims), she clearly had a beef with the library dealing with blockbuster-type material, like DVDs of hit movies and such, and "is that something the library should be doing?"
The CEO was pretty engaging about it, but I really had to bite my tongue, and restricted my comments only to 'if that gets them in the door to discover other things, then so much the better.'
But really? This idea that libraries should have only a certain type of collection, and leave the populist stuff to the private sector? That's bullshit. Our core mission is intellectual freedom. It is not up to anyone to say what is 'worthy' of being in a publicly-funded collection, it is not up to the library to tell someone what they 'should' be reading (or watching).
We provide materials and access. It is up to the patron to decide where they want to take it. Intellectual freedom means nothing if it's not self-directed.
I have nothing to prove on the academic side anymore. If I want to watch Hunger Games on DVD, why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't anyone? Why shouldn't a publicly-funded institution provide what the public wants?
But yeah. This elitist, pseudo-intellectual, exclusionary bullshit drives me batty. Especially in a town like Hamilton, where the library is the only resource available for a LOT of people.
We don't need ones like her on the board, thank you.
She also had issues with the library buying dozens of copies of popular releases, only to discard most of those after the popularity window closes. Firstly, she couldn't understand that if she was able to buy an Alice Munro hardcover at the book sale, we still have other copies in the collection. Secondly, keeping copies on the shelves which go unread helps no-one, and costs us a lot of money. Thirdly, why shouldn't we provide the materials people want when they want it, rather than having them wait three years for the one copy, and drifting away? Fourthly, determining how many copies of what need to be bought is something of a black art, which people go to graduate school and spend years of their professional lives to try to learn and perfect. The experts have a pretty good handle on it, frankly. But no -- she had this idea that if she could buy a copy at the book sale, we no longer have it in our collection, and she could not be shaken out of that perception.
So yeah. The CEO was much more tolerant of her than I would have been, and full marks to him. Open to new ideas, open to criticism -- absolutely. But it helps if you either know what you're talking about, or are willing to listen to people who do.
Another lady, she was asking questions, and taking notes, and trying to learn about the position rather than just jumping in and telling us what to do. That's the one we want, thanks.