Every year around this time all the children’s services staff in our District gather together for one full day of staff development. It’s always a fun day; a chance to see everybody and catch up on news, and the trainings are interesting and relevant. One of the highlights is when our collection development librarian does her annual roundup of patron concerns and challenges, with a timely reminder of District policies and procedures relating to the same. It’s not as dry as it sounds, this particular librarian has a great sense of humor, and there is undoubtedly some humor to be found in a few of those instances (how did that end up in the juvenile collection?). I believe it’s also important to be discussing these things frankly with all staff. This year it was also a timely reminder that I ought to follow up with my newest staff member to see if the training had raised questions, and to ensure that he was aware of the policies and procedures we have in place in the event of any patron concerns.
A week later I got a chance to sit down with him and I was happy to find that the training had piqued his interest and he did indeed have questions. From there the conversation spilled over into patron privacy issues and a discussion of the ALA Library Bill of Rights and Freedom to Read Statement. Being passionate about intellectual freedom I took full advantage of this “teachable moment” to encourage and foster his interest in how the library profession is upholding the first and third amendments and how much of why-we-do-what-we-do-the-way-that-we-do-it is related, and how important it is that we continue to value these core values of our profession, and I probably ran on as much as this sentence does, if not more. (*Breathe now*) But really, advocacy should begin at home, and he was surprised, as many folks new to library work are, at how hard we librarians work towards the rights that library users enjoy.
How do you introduce the subject with your new hires? How do you keep the topic alive within your workplace? Please share!
Claire Davies for the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee