Librarian Tells It As She Sees It, is Fired, and Sues

Maybe you've blogged about a disturbing patron, or posted something on a tumblr account about the not-quite-with-it daily visitor to your library.

From M (Michigan) Live: Former library assistant Sally Stern-Hamilton (under the pen name Anne Miketa) wrote a fictionalized book about about her experiences in the library and was fired for it. Now she's suing.

Stern-Hamilton’s literary work, entitled 'Library Diaries' — a disturbing look at life in the library — wound up on the shelves at Mason County District Library. It got her fired there as a library assistant.

Now the author has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the library violated her free-speech rights by firing her.

“(Stern-Hamilton’s) First Amendment interests, combined with the interests of the public, outweigh the government’s interest in the efficient performance of the workplace,” her attorney, David Blanchard wrote. “(She) was explicitly fired for engaging in protected speech.”

Library director Robert Dickson declined to comment. Attorney Kathleen Klaus, representing the library, Dickson, and Marilyn Bannon, president of the library board, said she would respond to the complaint next month. The controversy created headlines three years ago when Stern-Hamilton was fired from her job of 14 years.

"After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, throughout this book) for 15 years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn’t know existed in such significant portions of our population,” Stern-Hamilton wrote in the introduction.

A description reads: “Open this book and you’ll meet the naked patron, the greedy, unenlightened patrons, destination hell, the masturbator, horny old men, Mr. Three Hats, and a menagerie of other characters you never dreamt were housed at your public library.”

Once the library learned that Stern-Hamilton wrote the book, it suspended her. She was then fired. The Associated Press reported Dickson wrote in a letter to Stern-Hamilton that the characters in the book were easily recognizable.

“While you stop short of naming the individuals you targeted in your book, your detailed descriptions of their unique characteristics and mannerisms make them easily identifiable in our small community,” the AP quoted Dickson as writing.
The article has plenty of interesting comments, including one writers opinion:

"Well, see, the thing is, this is a *public* library. So you should not expect privacy, you should behave in a publicly acceptable manner. If you do, your behavior won't be worth writing about. If you want privacy for behavior strange enough to be book-worthy (like naked masturbatory stalking of children) you should find another, non-public venue. "


on the cover? and how strong can your free-speech case be if it took your lawyer 3 years to file?
so let's say she wins $$$, then the patrons she slandered in the book can sue her (!!). but I bet her lawyer didn't tell her that.

I wrote about this matter previously. See "Librarian Fired for Authoring Book Set in Public Library; Fiction Includes Known Sex Offenders Using Library Computers to View P-rn Near Children," 13 August 2008.

"Once the library learned that Stern-Hamilton wrote the book, it suspended her. She was then fired." Wait a minute. Don't libraries bend over backwards to not find out about the personal lives of its patrons? Didn't the ALA leader Judith Krug decry the Florida librarian who turned in a 9/11 terrorist to the police instead of respecting Florida state library confidentially law?

So exactly how did a library set aside the overprotectiveness for terrorists to investigate one of its own for disclosing such things as known sex offenders using library computers to view p-rn near children? I suppose this is part of the continuing pattern of the ALA ignoring librarians who speak out against libraries forcing p-rn on communities despite the law, etc.

I hereby offer my services as an expert on ALA practices and behavior as that may be relevant in this matter, particularly as ALA diktat is applied by local acolytes. Expect the usual people to attack me here for pointing out what I did, but it won't make the real issues go away, and I will be happy to assist any legal eagle involved.

Please notice that they BOUGHT a copy of her book for their library, seemingly totally unconcerned about the content, until they discovered that she was the author. Only then did they recognize the characters as actual patrons of their library. Seems like sour grapes to me, that none of them had found a way to profit from the crazies in their midst.