Things to think about

I took a stand for intellectual freedom and for it I lost my job. After everything I am still wondering: why do I keep pushing ahead? Why do I keep trying to stay in a profession that within the United States is a house divided? After having taken almost five weeks to recover I just am still at a loss.

I see references to "stands for intellectual freedom" and promoting intellectual diversity. Are those merely pious niceties that never require one to get their hands dirty? Are those the highest ideals of our profession? What can one do when a supervisor is in a position where he can rubbish the Code of Ethics and the Library Bill of Rights? Does one merely point out the fault and move on or does one try to make a difference?

I guess that comes to the root of the problem. I do not deal in pious niceties. Action was taken that resulted in the loss of my job. Such was not a bad thing, though. Massive problems were pointed out to administrators. The potential further damage is being hopefully limited drastically so that that person who otherwise should know better cannot harm the integrity of any other library.

Passing resolutions is one matter. That lets an organization speak in its collective voice. Taking action is different and is something I can barely find in the profession. When faced with something wrong, unethical, or immoral what do we do? Do we just ignore it and move along? Do we tolerate evil things through such ignorance? Or do we try to uphold standards and ideals even though there may be a cost in doing so?

Without ideals and ethics, is librarianship even a profession? If such is treated merely as pious niceties do they actually have any real meaning? Or can such be disregarded as being just words written on scraps of paper?

I am just at a loss. I truly am. Do I try to continue in librarianship? Do I give up and try for a different direction in my life? Being an old millenial/young gen-Xer (such depends upon whose year cutoffs you look at) means that I have possibly quite a number of years ahead of me. Some family already mention that even though I have aptitude for the profession it seems to them like my heart just is not in it any more.

(If any of the editors want to contact me privately via e-mail you might have my address on file. There is more of a story to tell, unfortunately.)


I'm sorry you lost your job. Could you elaborate a little though? They don't have to be specific details but a little context would be helpful.

Let me cite parts from ALA Code of Ethics that were run afoul of...besides the institutional policies and relevant laws that were also brought up."II. We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources."Supervisor quite actively censored library resources and admitted intent to carry out censorship. No rhyme or reason except supervisor's own whim served as the basis for the censorship. Collection became biased to where other stakeholders (not me) raised concerns and sought sanctions against the supervisor for the supervisor's actions."V. We treat co-workers and other colleagues with respect, fairness and good faith, and advocate conditions of employment that safeguard the rights and welfare of all employees of our institutions."Supervisor "assumed bad faith" and rather frequently would come into work enraged looking for a target for verbal abuse. Created conditions of employment that facilitated abuse. Causing otherwise mentally well staff to have nervous breakdowns repeatedly from "management actions" is not respect or fairness and is not by any measure conditions safeguarding staff welfare."VII. We distinguish between our personal convictions and professional duties and do not allow our personal beliefs to interfere with fair representation of the aims of our institutions or the provision of access to their information resources."Supervisor actively censored materials that violated supervisor's personal convictions. Supervisor's personal beliefs were in contradiction to relevant standards as well as institutional policy on a variety of fronts that maintaing such a discontinuity would otherwise have resulted in dismissal and prosecution. Supervisor actively resisted any administrative oversight about removals of materials and maintained no documentation of items that were removed in case questions were raised.

Well, again, I'm sorry you lost your job. But if they valued the supervisor over you that's their loss and your gain. I left my previous job because of certain similar behavior from my employer, particularly the second point.

In regards to your original post, I can only offer my comment in the current poll, librarians buy into their own hype a little too much and too often. The field of librarianship has the same pitfalls as any other and the Code of Ethics exists not because we trumpet our own success but to learn something that doesn't always come naturally to all people. Stay in libraries long enough and your going to meet a lot of great people, you're also going to meet a lot of bastards. But that's going to happen no matter what you do. When all is said and done stop asking yourself if you believe in what you do and start asking yourself if you enjoy it. Your personal beliefs can be molded into almost any career you choose, its just a question of choosing.

I'm so very sorry this didn't meet your expectations. I scrolled back and see something last August about a "political subdivision." Most jobs are political--maybe not governmental, but there are definitely power battles, territories, and budget borders. I have found that the bigger the concepts about freedom, responsibility, accountability, blah, blah, the deeper the BS you have to dig through.

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