July 02, 2016

Let Freedom Ring!

July is here in all of its red, white and blue glory.  From sea to shining sea, in just a few days we will enjoy dazzling patriotic celebrations of our nation’s independence.  Despite political bantering, challenging events and ongoing concerns about a number of vital issues, I remain steadfast in my appreciation of and respect for the many freedoms we share in this great country we call “home.”

At the top of my list is the freedom of speech. This newspaper column is a fine example of such.  At least once a month, I get to take pen to paper or fingers to keyboard to share my thoughts and musings.  It’s something I deeply value and never take for granted - the right to share what is on my mind or in my heart.  Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about being censored, imprisoned, or yes, even killed for what I think, say and write.

Freedom is evident not only in my newspaper column each month, but in the work I do and in the place I do that work each day.  I am the most fortunate of people.  The work for which I am so passionate about includes me helping people (particularly children, teens, parents and caregivers) find what they want and need at their public library.  It’s not only my job – it’s my privilege to help connect that book, that magazine, that DVD or that website to every person who walks through the library doors, calls me on the phone or sends me an email.  It is imbedded in my job description and in the job description of each of my colleagues.  And it matters not what any us of personally feel or think about people’s choices and preferences.  We are here to support our patrons’ freedom to access what they want and need.   

One of the statements I value most is, “there should be something in your library to offend everyone.”  If each of us doesn’t find something we feel is offensive on the shelves, then we as a library staff aren’t doing our job as thoroughly as we are called to do.  Why?  Once again, it’s all about freedom. Our freedom to view, speak, hear and read is protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a free society, there is no place for censorship of any medium of expression. That’s our mission and work on your behalf at your public library!

So, as we approach the Fourth of July and await the big Pullman fireworks celebration at Sunnyside Park, I, for one will be taking a few moments to reflect on and feel so grateful for the many freedoms I have and how they impact the work I do each day.

So, Happy Independence Day! Happy Fourth of July!  Let freedom continue to ring loudly and proudly across our great country, through our fine community and yes, right here at Neill Public Library!

Kathleen Ahern
Children's Librarian

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