Fired library director sues: Staff Members Allege "irrational" Behavoir

The Safe Libraries Guy sent over A Strange Tale from Michigan (Not Georgia) on a Library Director who is alleging she was fired for questioning the city's authority over the library. Staff members said she spoke through a puppet at meetings, talked about her sex life, berated and harassed workers, asked employees to spy on each other, and moved furniture in an upstairs room in 2006 without her top, wearing only a bra.

"While she might be perfectly fine with her body, the rest of us don't particularly want to see it," one worker wrote to the city.

She was basically accused of acting irrational at work, something her attorney vehemently denies.


If you read the story and take a look at the web site it appears on, this is from Macomb, MI. Oddly enough, it sounds like the behavior of a director that used to run the library I work at now. I managed to miss that one, but the stories from longer term staff make me think there's something in the water in Michigan...

I expect that the nutter in Macomb with lead Safelibraries to conclude that all librarians, by ALA fiat, desire to move furniture while shirtless, talk about sex inappropriately ...


Good find, dude.

Funny, Chuck! But in this case she was "CORRUPTING OUR LIBRARIANS!!!!!!!!!!" Actually, this story came to my attention because of this:

"An employee said Schmidli became angry when she called police about someone cruising pornography sites on the library computer because, she said, the patron "'had every right to look at porn.'"

That's the latest big lie, that libraries must provide access to porn. So in this case she was not crazy--she was just following along the ALA/ACLU trail followed by many other library directors.

But if she works in the library topless except for a bra, perhaps there's no need for computers to look at porn. Like the AE-35 unit replaced on the Odyssey to test HAL's prediction, the library director should get her job back to see if she will remove the bra and totally eliminate the need for unfiltered Internet computers. That could result in a big cost savings for the community and would be environmentally friendly.


As a matter of fact, public libraries are legally and constitutionally required to allow access to any and all protected speech.

Pornography is protected speech.

Now, I know that people like yourself hate the concept of protected speech, because that means that you have to put up with everything that does not conform to your petty little prejudices, but you really, really, really need to learn to differentiate between pornography and proscribable obscenity.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

Fang-Face and all reading this,

Yes, porn is protected speech. No, I do not hate the concept of protected speech (but anything about me personally does not really matter). And differentiating between porn and proscribable obscenity is irrelevant in the context of the public library.


Libraries are created by legal instrument for certain purposes. Those purposes almost never include porn. Under the relevant law, therefore, porn may be kept out of public libraries. Indeed that is exactly how many libraries keep such material out.

Porn's status as protected speech is irrelevant. Just because it is protected does not mean public libraries are forced to abrogate the legal instruments that created them and local governments have no say.

Further, although libraries are free to act autonomously within the law that created them, if they act outside that law, such as by allowing access to porn when it has been proscribed, then the government has every right to ensure that library complies with the law.


As always, you have failed to consider that you cannot define porn. There is no objective criteria by which something can be determined to be pornographic or not. "Porn", like beauty, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Any science- and medical-based information on sex and sexuality is pornographic that does not conform to the petty little prejudices of people of your ilk.

You want to clean up libraries? Start with the pornography of the bible.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

You are referring to Song of Solomon from the Old Testament, right?
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen

Song of Solomon is only one element. Noah was a drunken stumble-bum who passed out with his pecker exposed. Lot's daughter's got him drunk and raped him. There is widespread talk of harlotry, adultery, and abominations.

Not to mention the "hate speech" and mandates for genocide.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

Fang-Face said, "Pornography is protected speech. .... [Y]ou really, really, really need to learn to differentiate between pornography and proscribable obscenity."

I responded by saying just because it is protected, that does not mean it is required in public libraries. And let me add that is exactly part of what the Court said in US v. ALA.

Fang-Face's next response is "you cannot define porn. There is no objective criteria by which something can be determined to be pornographic or not."

You cannot have it both ways. You cannot argue there is a difference between "pornography and proscribable obscenity" and at the same time argue "you cannot define porn." If you cannot define porn, how can you claim it differs from "proscribable obscenity"?

The excuse making created by Fang-Face and others who use the same excuses contradicts itself. Fang-Face negates his own arguments in this fashion. Further, one doesn't even know which excuse actually might be close to the truth. In part based on Fang-Face's obvious tone and bias, I'll say neither are likely accurate. But in light of US v. ALA, I know for sure Fang-Face is wrong.

The Court in US v. ALA said, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree." Fang-Face would say "you cannot define material inappropriate for minors. There is no objective criteria by which something can be determined to be material inappropriate for minors or not." Whom shall we believe, Fang-Face or the US Supreme Court?


CIPA's a good start for guidance. Or segregating adult computers from children's computers and calling it a day. Generally a good idea anyway in the publics, considering how grumpy adults tend to get with kids and their runescapes or what-have-you. What is porn is a hard question. Is it pornographic when Lot, having escaped sodomy, turned to the rum, and lashed his daughters in a cave until they're with child. Is that morally uplifting? Or merely prurient? Do I need to invoke Stanley Fish here? What in God's name is the message there, and how does it have any claims to something even resembling universality. Is the message, "God worked in mysterious ways" or is it "Hey kids, when escaping from a city-destroying fire storm, and from anal rape, don't get drunk and knock up your daughters!" or is it "Hey, this is kind of sexy up in here, why don't you loosen your belt some, whiles I relates to you the story of Lot and his nubile daughters" Have you read revelations? Women giving birth up in the stars for everyone to see. Dragons eating babies, harlots dripping in wine, menstruating, seducing kings - it's not for the faint of heart. Hell, it's more sex-filled than your standard internet porn. Porn is not even addressed in most incorporating legal instruments of libraries that I am familiar with. Access certainly is. Go to any public library in the country and you'll find additional policies that are home-brewed addressing accessing illegalities on the net - that covers true obscenity and the more heinous varietals of disgusting and illegal behavior on the web. The moment you start trying to define and prohibit legal porn, is the moment you have to define it, and that's the moment you have to start playing censor every time anyone gets his or her panties in a wad regarding what another adult is looking at. For example, I was summoned once by a nebbish man screaming bloody murder about pornography some lady was looking at - rushing to the scene we found it was a swimsuit catalog! A swimsuit catalog! To him it might as well have been someone screwing a goat. Another guy had a problem with some other guy looking at a dating site. Mostly it was women in low-cut dresses, but we clicked around forever - I couldn't even find cameltoe pictures, much less uncovered bosoms, penetration, or Yiffing. Fielding those kinds of questions is a waste of resources. Blocking it all wholesale is the worst kind of numbnut dummery - why have computers in the first place, if you're going to limit them to hotmail and the DisneyChannel? Libraries must uphold the law, absolutely. And the law says that child pornography, snuff films, bestiality, are illegal to own, create, host, and view. Most libraries have policies that state very clearly that if you are detected doing such things you will be reported. But these are redundant -- any law-abiding citizen or organization is expected to do the same, whether in a library, on the bus, at your office, in school.

The idea that libraries facilitate illegal behaviors of this sort is becoming the worst kind of moral panic. And it's festering because of outliers like this and that truly bizarre firing of a technician month before last. Access is access. Reducing it "for the children" reduces our utility. People will go elsewhere. Libraries and the ALA have never offered, attempted to offer, or create some sort of safe harbor for clearly illegal behaviors. Libraries do not endorse it, they do not indemnify, they do not attempt to cover up crimes of this sort. There is no in loco parentis assumed. No shared responsibility. A crime committed in the library is still the same crime, no worse or no better than if you perpetrated it at home. If you sell a guy a gun and he goes hunting with it, are you responsible for his good behavior? Of course not. If you sell the same guy the same gun, and he climbs up a tower and starts shooting, are you responsible for his bad behavior. People want internet access, just as badly as they want guns. That's our product: Access. Tell the gun enthusiasts that you're not selling guns to anyone anymore because of some serial killer, and let's see how long your business lasts. And if they find that we'll sell them a gun that's so encumbered with "safety" equipment and restrictions that it's shit for deer hunting, because occasionally someone commits a crime with deer rifle, you better believe the law abiding citizens are going to go down the road the first time a competitor pops up who's got a more enlightened take on the way things work. And they won't forgot the shoddy service they get next time the millage comes up.

Anyway, to pick up your point. You can have it both ways. CIPA excludes porn, because porn is sexual in nature. So is animal husbandry. And some biology sites I've seen websensed out. CIPA (I'm talking about it's implementation -- sweet, sweet ILMS dollars num num num) also tends to blot out information on breast exams, or how to tell your teacher if your dad's been abusing you *down there*. However, that does not mean that pornography and obscenity are the same thing. The flip side of CIPA requires that adults be given prompt and non-invasive access beyond the filter, in appropriate settings, i.e., not in the middle of Lap-Sit programming in the kid's room. And by god, if they want to look at porn, legal porn, and not do anything illegal - what do you know, maybe it's part of a student project? - what's the big frickin' deal, Cotton Mather?

You cannot argue there is a difference between "pornography and proscribable obscenity" and at the same time argue "you cannot define porn."

You can define proscribable obscenity to a certain degree. The U.S. Supreme Court has set parameters by which something can be determined to be obscene, as opposed to merely pornographic or indecent. The criteria to determine proscribable obscenity, however, have subjective elements. And whether or not something is pornographic, is entirely subjective. That's point number one.

Point number two is, you and people like you are not qualified to categorize indecency, pornography, and proscibable obscenity. It takes a court case to have something ruled as unprotected speech.

Once again: you're saying something is unprotected because it does not conform to your petty, little prejudices and hypersensitivites is not good enough.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

I have never seen a story so bent and twisted into an agenda item, and I've been watching this kinda crap for a long time.

We have a fairly interesting, and incredibly funny, story about a director who is obviously batshit loco. Then again, I've always said that being batshit loco is a required skill for becoming a director. Still, leave it to people to take skills too far. The only things I could think of while reading the story was "Was the puppet named Mr. Hat?" and "Did she have nice tits?". Otherwise, she's nuts, she's fired, and good thing too.

And then comments started up and it became a pornography case. WTF?

Let me share with all of you a little fact about porn in the library.

Got internet? Then you got porn. I can get porn really easy in any library. Screw filters, screw technology, screw people walking around and nosing into my business. If I have access to Google Images and sites outside the country, I have access to porn. Get over it. You cannot have the internet without porn. Does it belong in libraries? Who cares? Does the library have internet? Yes? Then the library has porn. Never mind what's in the books, never mind what's in the periodicals, never mind what's in the freakin' Bible; and the Bible argument grows old fast. There's not a damned religious text in the world without sex in it. Do you have internet @ your library? Then you have porn @ your library.

And in the end, I have a laptop. I can bring my own porn to the library if I feel so inclined. Or perhaps I can get to it through Live Mesh. Maybe, just maybe, I can grab a random romance paperback, pick up a pencil and paper, and resketch and redraw the cover so the two people are nude. Not only can I bring porn to the library, I can create it there too. And as to the creation of porn through the medium of drawing, there's really not a damned thing most libraries can do about that as long as they stock books on how to draw and those books have nude people in them to show how anatomy works.

Now there are two questions about porn you need to answer is this: How much money do you wish to throw at an impossible issue? Would that money be better spent somewhere else? Perhaps in, I don't know, staff salaries or collection development? On the list of real and relevant problems libraries face today, the problem regarding pornography is somewhere on page 15 underneath "Should the shelves be orange or avocado in colour?"

Instead of worrying about pornography in libraries, let's instead worry about unattended children in libraries. Besides, I think we can actually do something about that.

Some books contain the machinery required to create and sustain universes. Tycho (Jerry Holkins) @ Penny Arcade

Forget the porn. Come on guys, the woman spoke through a puppet at meetings? Fantastic!

Well, by the time that happened a second time alarm bells should have been going off. They weren't. I am at a loss as to how that is appropriate managerial technique.
Stephen Michael Kellat, Host, LISTen

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