or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Equal Access

   February 1st, 2007 Brian Herzog

Comic StripA friend of mine sent me this comic strip - it's nice when people outside of libraries notice library-related things.

Anyway, this comic also struck me as funny, due to the double-standards inherent in libraries. We pride ourselves on promoting and providing equal access to all information and resources, and yet there are certain topics that could make any librarian think twice. Should the Quran be one of these topics? No more than the Bible.

But I've also noticed this double-standard when it comes to internet use. We defend peoples' rights to look at white supremacist or political websites, which could easily make someone else in the library uncomfortable. But when it comes to people looking at porn in the library, librarians often actively try to curtail it. Why? Because it makes some people uncomfortable.

I know that in public libraries, kids are always a concern, and do need to be protected to some degree. But why would accidentally seeing porn on someone else's computer screen be any more harmful than a flag-waving racist?

Not that I have a solution, of course - I just dislike inconsistency.

comic, comic strip, equal access, libraries, library, public libraries, public library

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