Be respectful when using the 1st Amendment, i.e. don’t be a jerk

2014-07-01 09Our library recently installed a 4’x4′ veggie and herb garden. While small, it notates the nutritional benefits of the plants in the garden and gives those without means the opportunity to see and taste fresh produce. We also plan to use the garden as a jumping-off point for healthy eating programming. Obesity is an epidemic and our library is happy to support nutritional education.

One patron apparently disagrees. Following our eNewsletter that included a photo of the new garden, we received a nasty email in response: “Wow… a 16 square foot vegetable and herb garden!   That’s absolutely idiotic.”

I responded by thanking him for the feedback, reasserting the purpose of the garden, and welcoming him to continue giving us feedback so we can effectively serve *every* member of our community. Just because you don’t practice healthy eating or care about the kids in our community, doesn’t mean that you should vehemently insult us.

Being a reference librarian, I naturally looked up who this guy was. Turns out that there are a thousand stereotypes that I could probably say about this patron, but it is not up to me to judge his interests. As librarians, we support all forms of information and education. It’s just a shame that he thinks the library should only align with his beliefs.

The patron has also not responded to my reply. Funny how often people are eager to attack online with sarcasm, but rarely step up to have a legitimate discussion. If it’s a bad idea, tell us why. We’ll listen and adjust if necessary. But we certainly won’t adjust simply because you’re an ass.

[P.S. I’m amazed at how many folks are even more upset than I am about this email. Anywhere from “I can’t believe someone would do that” to “he should be put in the ground.” Cheers to free speech.]