In my forty-three-year work history I’ve held a variety of jobs -- from waitress to teacher to custodian to librarian, to name a few. Obviously, no matter what I did for a living, I was the same person. But curiously, I was often judged as being more worthy of respect when I was teaching second graders about the life cycle of a frog than when I was cleaning windows and toilets. Why?
There are probably a myriad of answers to that question, but at the center of it all is judgment. Judgment. And nowadays it seems to be at every turn. And the judgment is not restricted to only what one does for a living. I find it daily - when I watch a TV show, listen to a radio program or read the front page of my local newspaper. It's there. Judgment. Front and center.
One person or a group of people appoint themselves as an authoritative entity so they can then proceed to judge others. The result? A person or a group of people get labeled as somehow less than, unworthy or inferior.
It amazes me. It sickens me. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. As human beings, are we not inherently equal when it comes to our worthiness, our value and our right to be respected? Regardless? Regardless of what jobs we do, where we live, what we believe, who we love or how we look.
Are we not inherently equal as people? Of course, we are. How could we be otherwise? And what is the future of our world, our nation, our very community if judgment puts a person or a group of people above or below another?
Some might say it's impossible to have an environment without judgment. I respectfully disagree based what I have been doing for a living for the last eighteen years - being a public librarian. I know firsthand it is possible to not only establish such an environment, but to have that environment of non judgment flourish.
The basic cornerstones of the public library are non judgment and equality. It is my job and the job of every public librarian to uphold and protect these tenets of freedom for all - the freedom to read, the freedom to view, the freedom to have access to all materials without judgments or restrictions. Librarians must work diligently to help ensure there is a breadth of materials for everyone. Regardless.
Perhaps you have encountered the phrase "there should be something in your public library to offend everyone." There is no truer statement. It is the only assurance that we librarians are doing the jobs we are charged to do by the public we serve. To have materials that reflect diverse perspectives, myriads of thoughts and broad scopes of ideas. Regardless.
I think there are great lessons from the public library for all of us to ponder, to explore and to put into practice in our own lives. Where we make a commitment to ourselves and every person with whom we share this life, to live with respect and no judgment. Regardless.
So I invite you to visit and spend time at Neill Public Library - your library - a thriving and
welcoming oasis of non judgment in a world that appears to be in desperate need of such.
Neill Public Library