In politically and civically charged times such as the one we find ourselves in, libraries sometimes become targets of controversy. The Rosary Rally scheduled for April 19 placed our library in the crosshairs of such a controversy.
To the community members who have stopped by the library, met with me, called me or talked to staff to find out what the “truth” is regarding our library catalog and which books we carry, specifically the ones referenced in the America Needs Fatima list (printed on the Rosary Rally flyer), I applaud you.
Had either the Rev. Jim Williams or the Rosary Rally organizers done their homework, they would have known that only two books in question were owned by our library at that time and these titles were never available in the children’s area.
From April 9, when the rally notice was available in the local Catholic church bulletin and throughout the rest of the following week, community members, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, sent me personal texts, emails and even brought the flyer into the library to let us know that they were concerned for the library and staff, as we were targets of the false accusation of how we “pushed perversion into our nation’s children.”
Father Jim’s assertion that this information was “leaked” is naïve. The inflammatory language on the Rosary Rally flyer alone created a stir that went beyond the congregation. Father Jim even stated in his April 21 Mountain Mail response that the “Rosary Rally was for our parishioners and community members to gather …” As a small community, news travels fast and not always in print form.
I reached out to Father Jim on April 10 to learn more about the intention of the rally. His office stated they would get a text to him in order to have him call me back. He never responded.
However, I did have a productive conversation with the Colorado Springs Diocese.
The community celebration that brought 300 people to the library on April 19 was organized by grassroots groups and community members who wanted to show support for the library and the LGBTQ+ community (this is the group targeted by the America Needs Fatima book list). The group scheduled the Tolkien Room in our library, which any group can do through our reservation procedures. It grew past that room’s capacity and moved outside. They wanted to support the library and felt it was important to meet as planned. I was not part of their planning.
My staff and I were grateful for our community’s dedicated support for its library.
The Salida library is a place where we provide materials for all library patrons, within budgetary constraints and availability of materials, ones that meet their interest, information, enlightenment, entertainment, education, development and enrichment. We do our best to have a balanced collection and are always accepting of suggestions of titles to enhance the collection.
Selection of materials does not constitute or imply agreement with or approval of the content, viewpoint, implications or presentation of the materials.
As per our Safe Child Policy, “the library staff also does not serve in loco parentis”. It is the responsibility of the parent(s), and only the parent(s), to guide their children, and only their own children, in using and accessing library materials. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that materials may inadvertently come into the possession of children.
It is time to move beyond the controversy. And this is the truth.
Susan Matthews is Salida Regional Library director.