Libraries are not neutral. This is so important, especially now.
Storytime Underground is not neutral.
We have never been neutral. We exist to challenge you and provide a space to learn. We stand for social justice.
Sadly, there has been a rise of racist, xenophobic, anti-semitic and Islamophobic discussion and comments on the Storytime Underground Facebook page. Let’s start with the basics: This is NOT ok. Much of this comes out of discussions as to whether or not Christmas or other holidays should be celebrated in libraries. We at Storytime Underground firmly believe that the public library is NOT a place for holiday celebrations, and have written publicly about that.
In the past, we have allowed librarians to debate the topic in the Storytime Underground Facebook page for this main reason:
We have new members every day, and even veteran librarians and SU members may not have seen this discussion before. Many have never considered the idea of not celebrating holidays in the library. By being exposed to this discussion and learning about the deep core ethical reasons for NOT celebrating, they have changed their personal ideas in this topic. THIS is why we do the work we do- so that librarians who might not otherwise be exposed to other ideas have a place to learn.
We keep an eye on these discussions, and try to step in when things get ugly, as they have more often in recent days. We publicly post our stance, we shut down the comments, and we have deleted posts that do not adhere to our guidelines.
But this is getting harder.
We are only a few people, working full time jobs with families, and we don’t always catch these threads in time. A number of other wonderful librarians have helped contribute to these discussions, making valid points that we agree with. We firmly believe that it IS NOT and SHOULD NOT be the job of marginalized people to fight this battle- this is a battle against privilege, and librarians with privilege need to step up and fight the fight. This means us.
We will not permit any discussion or comments that are racist, anti-semitic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, or in any other way hateful or a violation of our professional ethics.
Period. We will delete any post that we deem inappropriate, and stick up for those being bullied.
But, we need to ask for your help as Storytime Guerrillas, especially from non-marginalized people to help keep the space safe for marginalized voices. If you are being bullied or having hate speech directed at you, please tell us. If you see this happening, please tell us. If you see it and we don’t, or if you see it before we do, please please please, report a post and tell us about it. There are seven of us Joint Chiefs (Cory Eckert, Kendra Jones, Julie Crabb, Brytani Fraser, Mary Kuehner, Soraya Silverman-Montano, and Holly Storck-Post) and we can only catch so much of what’s being posted. However, there are 8,000 of you and with our powers combined we can hopefully stop hateful comments and posts as soon as they emerge. We will listen. We are committed. And we need your help.