Do Salt Lake City Librarians Have a Censorship Problem?

Submitted by birdie on Wed, 10/19/2011 - 11:00

Salt Lake City Library employees say the latest chapter on staff turmoil is rich with irony: a clampdown on free speech inside the very institution that celebrates the principle.

A just-launched crackdown on any opinionated email — and on criticism of management expressed via social media — has some veteran librarians fearing for their jobs and a chorus of others crying censorship.

Even Friends of the Library members are openly questioning the library’s direction and its “chronic problems.”

The uproar started last week after the human resources manager unveiled new guidelines for all-staff email. It is only appropriate, Shelly Chapman wrote, to send pertinent, work-related information such as available shifts and job announcements. “It was also determined,” Chapman wrote, “that employees would not use all-staff email to voice opinions or express concerns.”

“Appropriate” all-staff email must be reviewed by two staffers before sending, the edict reads. And “any other” all-staff email must be approved by the employee’s manager.

That prompted veteran librarian Ranae Pierce — via an all-staff email — to point out the irony of the rule, given the library’s free-speech mission. Story from the Salt Lake City Tribune.