by Claudine Perrault, Library Director
Like a compass, the Library’s values, goals and policies guide what we do. These components work together, setting the standard of service to this great mountain valley of ours. Listening to the community is our business, and our compass sets the course for service.
To make sure we’re listening effectively, the Library has provided the “We’ll Get It For You” service since 1989. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the collection, we’ll either buy it or borrow it from another library for you. It’s that simple.
This summer, there has been tremendous demand for titles on race discrimination. Last month, all physical and digital anti-racist titles had been checked out, with requests for additional copies backlogged due to publisher production rates.
Recently, the OverDrive company made four of the nationally-bestselling titles available for free and immediately accessible. All titles were on our local waiting lists. With that in mind, we shared news of this opportunity, and provided a link on the Library homepage. What a boon to have these titles made available at no taxpayer expense.
In a recent Guest Opinion, the writer expressed concerns that these OverDrive titles do not represent a balanced perspective on racism. He recommended additional books that weren’t currently in our collections.
Our Collections Policy begins: “In order to achieve an informed citizenry, the Library has a responsibility to include materials on all subjects of interest to its readers, and on multiple sides of an issue.”
We are purchasing those titles still in print. On principle, we actively seek recommendations from everyone, because the Library belongs to everyone. Presenting multiple viewpoints is a Library tradition.
Not only are we continuing to add new titles on these issues, we’ve prioritized this topic for Current Affairs programs. When it comes to books or films chosen for community discussions, we’re guided by our Program & Partner Policy, stating:
“The Library’s philosophy of open access to information and ideas extends to programming. Programs shall not exclude topics, materials, or speakers because these might be controversial. Library presentation of a program does not constitute an endorsement of the content of the program or the views expressed by participants, any more than the purchase of material for the Library collection constitutes an endorsement of the contents of the material or the views of its creator.”
Books lead us to dialogue. Dialogue frequently leads to exposure to different ideas, to consider multiple viewpoints, to gain empathy for others and thus overcome divisions.
Watch for community conversations, starting next month, with titles on anti-racism and conflict resolution, facilitated by our partners at Estes Valley Crisis Advocates and Estes Valley Restorative Justice. Whether you agree or disagree with a book’s conclusions, we hope you bring your voice to the discussion.
A wide range of viewpoints is essential, designed within a safe setting, for all of us to come together and share solutions to the challenges of our day. Your Library is a welcoming place for a diversity of ideas.