Sunday, November 27, 2016

And Here We Go Again....

Holiday storytimes

Every year about this time it starts. I'm not talking about shopping, baking, eating, or family bickering, but the endless debates, lectures, and arguments in online library groups about the holidays and whether or not they should be recognized in any way in the library building or programming.

Some people feel very strongly that in the effort to be inclusive, there should be no trace of holidays in the library. No holiday decorating, no holiday displays, and above all, no holiday programming. I personally don't share this extreme view, but if someone else feels that is what is best for their community, I have no problem with it.

What I do have a big problem with is how some of the people who hold this view believe that their way is the one and only right way of doing things, and will lecture, criticize, and belittle other librarians who do have holiday decor and/or programs, without knowing anything at all about the communities they serve. It is shocking and very disconcerting that a group that is supposedly all about inclusion, equality, tolerance, and kindness seems to have no problem bullying others within its ranks who have different views. If you are only "tolerant" of those who agree with you, then you aren't inclusive or tolerant at all!

My personal view is sanitizing all libraries in the name of inclusiveness is at best misguided and unrealistic, and at worst, a form of censorship and promoting a personal agenda. It is unrealistic to expect all programs to appeal to and include everyone; it is an impossible goal. That's why we offer a wide variety of programs. Second, the only time I hear this unattainable standard applied is in relation to holiday programs. Just like every book will not appeal to every patron, it is unreasonable to expect every program to appeal to everyone. 

I think each library has to decide what is right for their community. I don't know your community, and you don't know mine. I agree we need to be inclusive overall, but I don't think that means one cannot have ANY holiday programs, nor do I think anyone HAS to have holiday programs. I think a good compromise is to keep regular programs, like weekly storytimes, neutral, but having a separate holiday program is okay if you have patrons that want it. Above all, I think we all need to realize that there is not one right way of doing things because every community is different, and we need to leave it to the people and librarians in each community to decide what is right for them.

This reminds me so much of all the tiresome "mommy wars".... Some people have such a need to be "right" they cannot recognize that others' viewpoints are just as valid as their own; every family/community is different and what works for one may not be good for another. So how about we start showing more respect for different opinions, have rational discussions and recognize that there is in fact some gray area here, and that we may have to just agree to disagree in the end?

[And yes, as you can see from my blog I do holiday storytimes, because the daycares I go to request them. If I were doing regular storytimes in the library, I would keep with a neutral theme and have a separate holiday program.]


  1. Very well said and I agree. Libraries need to reflect their community's needs and wants because they are part of the community! That being said I don't include holidays as part of my regular programming. I keep holiday programs separate. I was quite dismayed at the posts and comments on Storytime Underground this past week.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I find the whole thing very disconcerting, with all the judgment and name-calling. I can respect various points of view, even if I don't subscribe to them; I don't believe there is only one right way to be a librarian and would never presume to know what was right for other communities. It's sadly ironic that a group that claims to be so passionate about inclusion, tolerance, and kindness has so much difficulty practicing it with their own peers. :(