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The library district I work for, The Alachua County Library District in Florida, has made the national news? Usually when this happens we make feel good, happy days, we’re one of the ten best libraries in the country type of news. Not today.

To be specific, the story about our library district refers to a patron who claims our buying preferences are bias, tainted with a prejudice, a mess of a heap of spending that leans towards liberal material  purchases while giving the thumbs down to books or media that favors the conservative right.

The book in question is, Clinton Cash, the graphic novel version.  The headlines on the matter state that “A Florida Library Bans book….” Below is the actual immediate follow-up to the headline.

The Alachua County Library District denied Alachua County resident Ann Lhota’s request to make Clinton Cash: A Graphic Novel available to borrow.”

Let’s be clear—Not buying a book for the library shelves is a far cry from  banning a book, but there’s so much more that goes with this story, and none of it is being discussed in the news stories.  Not only has our library district not banned this book, we own ten or more copies of the book, just not the graphic novel format. The Alachua County Library owns this book.

It is relevant to note that only 60 libraries nation-wide have bought this book in the graphic novel format. Why? This  I can’t answer, but it’s clear that 99% of library purchase departments country-wide deem buying this book a poor use of tax payer’s money. This basically means the purchase departments for libraries across the county don’t think the graphic novel will circulated enough to be worth its cost. In our case, the hard print version of this book has not circulated well up to this date-that could change with all the commotion this so-called news story has created.

It’s also important to note the Alachua County library has actually bought 35 of 39 purchase requests this patron has made over the past two years. Actually, this is an astonishing number of purchase requests for any one patron to make within a two-year period. I think it nice that she is so motivated but it’s even more mind-blowing that our purchase department has bought such a high number of her book request! Why this one book is stuck in her craw I can’t say…but her complaints on this matter have been as highly motivated as her interest in submitting purchase requests.

Ann Lhots has complained to town commissioners,  to newspapers and to library officials about this decision to not, at this point, pick up one of her 39 purchase requests. Fellow sympathizer’s for her cause have sent e-mails from around the nation, some flat-out rude, laced with name calling, crude expressions and vile wishes. Why? We house over 250 thousand books in just one of eleven locations comprised within our library district-the issue is over one format of one book that we do own in another.

More to the point, why is this story national news? How bizarre.  Tsk-tsk to the papers that ran this story. Of course, the fuel to this over blown story lies within the motivation of those who wish to portray libraries as national hot beds of radical, liberal thinking.

It’s a common core belief of many on the Right or conservative side of politics that libraries should not be funded by tax dollars. Case in point.  Texas had the nation’s lowest state funding for its public libraries  when George Bush Jr. was its governor.  So yeah, people who might like us to carry the graphic novel version of, Clinton Cash, a book that leans ‘right’ when it comes to embracing Hillary Clinton’s downside, may well be among those who think libraries are ill-suited for the public cause.

The bottom line is pubic libraries have no agenda but to exist and to provide free and open access to any type of information-factual, entertaining, trendy, now or then, to every edge of knowledge or furthermost out there speculation. It’s all good if it’s information, that’s any public library’s unspoken motto.

Please go out and visit your public library; we love seeing patrons. The materials we provide are free to access and librarians across the country are available to help you locate what you hope to find. As for Ms. Lhota’s complaint, I would have expected a “Thank You for buying 35 of the 39 books I requested you buy,” instead. Or, at least a smile.

The papers running this story should have taken a broader look at the story before spending their hard-earned money on the ink it took to print.

See you in the public library.

Franque23–I’ve been a library Specialist for the past twenty-two years.

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