Re: Library Controversy
I am the current President of the Board of Directors for the Bandera Kronkosky Library. Earlier this week, the library was contacted by a man asking about the library’s next board meeting. We meet on the third Tuesday of every month at 5:00 p.m. in the library. The librarian asked him if he wanted to attend and he said yes, but refused to give his name. He became increasingly upset, as she pressed him for his name, and he eventually told her that she was actively trying to silence him. He then said that he and about “ten other men in cowboy hats” would be coming to the meeting. Our caller id identified the man as someone who has posted negative posts on our Facebook page. We have no way of knowing if the caller was actually that person.
Yesterday morning, the library received a call from Rebecca Gibson, the Bandera mayor. She informed the librarian that there is a rumor going around town that the library would be hosting a transvestite from Austin to read to the children, and that the mayor would be attending in support. The rumor was apparently started by this same person. He advised the mayor that he would be contacting the churches around town to form a protest.
This is obviously not true. We have no plans for this program and certainly have no reason to believe that the mayor would come in support, as she has no direct connection with the library.
I would like to remind people what libraries do and what our library does. We provide information. We do not take a position. We do not promote any agenda. We support no political party, ideology or religion. If you have an interest in a topic, we probably have a book that addresses that topic. If we don’t have it, we may be able to get it for you.
We do have a collection policy and we do consider the books that come into our library. Our policy includes attempting to find books on a wide range of topics, from a wide range of perspectives. We try to avoid books which purport to be factual, but which are patently untrue. We rely on recommendations from the State Library system and from other libraries, but do not actually read every word of every book that comes into the library. No library does this.
We also provide a place for groups with a shared interest to meet, within reason. We do not allow pornography or the promotion of violence. We do not permit religious or political groups to use our meeting rooms.
Because we provide a range of information about a range of topics, we probably have something in our library with which you will disagree on some level. That does not give any one person the right to deprive someone else of its use. If you don’t like the book, don’t read it. We strongly believe that knowledge is essential to a free society. When we start limiting access to information, we increase our ignorance and doom our freedoms.
We do provide library cards to children, but only with the written approval of their parents. Their parents are responsible for which books their child checks out, and for returning those books to us in a timely fashion. If you want to closely monitor your child’s reading, require them to use your card to check books out. If your child has his/ her own card, you have given your permission for them to check out any book. We ask that parents accompany their children 12 and under to the library, both for their safety and so parents can see what their child’s interests are.
We keep a record of the books our patrons, including children, check out. These records are highly confidential, available only to the patron or his/her designated representative. However, the parent of any person under the age of 18 years has the right to see what their child is reading, regardless of which card is used to check the book out.
Because of the nature of the communications we have had in the last few days, we decided to hold our May Board meeting via Zoom. All of our Board are volunteers, and none of them signed up to be harassed by anyone with an agenda.
Our Board meetings are public and if you would like to attend, please contact the library and give them your email so that we can let you know where the meeting will take place. If we are meeting via Zoom, we will provide you with an invite so that you can observe the meeting.
We have a procedure to follow if you would like to say something to the Board. You will be asked to provide your name and contact information and a specific summary of what it is you want to address. The written request must be turned in to the library by 5:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the meeting. This gives us time to consider your issue and to put it on the agenda.
The library is a wonderful place. Bandera County is fortunate to have three terrific libraries, with Medina Library and Lakehills Library in addition to our own. We invite everyone to come and see for yourselves.
If you ever hear any rumor about the library which seems to be outrageous, please call us. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our library.
Sally A. Jones