Jane Courant has been a full time Oakland librarian since 1998. She’s worked as a children’s librarian and is now the Adult Services Librarian at the Dimond Branch. Previous to moving to the Bay Area, she was an actor/singer in small theatre troupes and maintains an interest in the arts.
This letter is a response to the Oakland Tribune editorial bashing library workers and their unions, http://www.insidebayarea.com/opinion/ci_18217065.
“I strongly urge the Governor to follow the legislature’s lead and sign AB 438, a decidedly pro-library bill, rather than follow the dangerous position taken in “Assembly Bill 438 is an Anti-library Measure,” (6/7/11). A private company’s mission is to maximize profits. A public library’s mission is to serve all citizens equally and protect their free access to information as well as the privacy of their library records. Librarians must be able to stand up to authority — and they frequently do — to ensure that they fulfill this mission, whether it means preventing FBI access to borrowing records or opposing those who would censor materials, keeping them from library shelves or computer screens.
If a public librarian’s employer is a private company beholden to its investors, fear of losing one’s job makes such principled positions much more difficult to maintain. Recently, LSSI, one of the biggest players in the library privatization game, took over the Santa Clarita system. Its contract gave them control not only of hiring, but of materials purchasing as well. In attacking the SEIU, The Tribune misses the point of public unions completely, whether they protect the rights and responsibilities of teachers, police, park workers or librarians.”
One needs only look at the Patriot Act and the folks who fought its infringements the hardest, to see the importance of keeping the libraries public. Thanks for this letter, Jane.