A few people were critical of my directness in my letter to the VPL board, so I was surprised to get a response. I have permission to post the reply I received here. I’d love to know what other people think.
Thank you for your email dated August 26, to the VPL Board regarding the new VPL Policy.
VPL upholds high standards with regard to access to information and intellectual freedom. We have demonstrated this repeatedly in response to challenges to items in our collection and room rentals. The issue of public displays in a public space is a challenging one that raises unique issues that access to collections for personal private use does not.
Staff considered a multitude of options before and during the development of this policy solution, including all of the considerations you mentioned in your email , space design, equipment options, specific versus more general language. Ultimately, each of these solutions creates their own problems and it was determined that the approved approach, while not perfect, was the most appropriate given the library’s circumstances.
The Board agrees that implementation of the policy and appropriate training for staff will be critical to ensure that people’s rights to access content are not unreasonably restricted. Our professional librarians at VPL , who share common library professional values , have considerable experience in managing and balancing diverse values and public goods in policy and service. In fact, we have high confidence in our professional librarians’ ability to apply this policy in a nuanced and appropriate manner that does not unreasonably restrict access to content. We also all agree that the appropriate person to have this conversation are public service staff; however, there are occasional circumstances when Security staff are appropriate.
Staff will monitor the outcomes of this policy change and will report to the Board after a full year of implementation. At that point, they may or may not recommend adjustments to the policy.
If you have any further questions, we invite you to connect with VPL management. We understand you have many personal contacts on the VPL management team who are always open to discussing matters related to the library with colleagues.
Mary Lynn Baum
Chair, Vancouver Public Library Board