I’m aware that my struggles with the local library are not COMPLETELY relevant to the topic of this blog. However…access to books is of no small matter to any writer (or dedicated reader). And the continued challenge of expressing my ideas clearly to people who are apparently occupying an alternate reality is probably of interest to readers as well.
My email below was answered this morning by the Board of Trustees chair:
Dear Ms. Bauer–
I have been out of town since December 20 and just returned last night, so I am sorry to be so tardy in acknowledging the
expression of your concern.
I regret that you have lost your privileges at our library–our choice to limit our services was a very difficult one to make,
but we felt that in the current situation it was, unfortunately, the right one.
Furthermore, at this time our position does not embrace for fee services.
I am glad you will be able to use the services of the Richmond Public Library.
Susan Geary, Chair
Board of Trustees
Williamsburg Regional Library
At this point, I seem to have stepped sideways into a world where Newspeak has overcome the English language. (Or else into the world of the Princess Bride. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.)
I am going to have to contemplate my methods here, since I’m obviously not exercising the correct style of rhetoric. In the meantime, here is my answer. (If it does not seem to be in English, please let me know. Perhaps my cerebral cortex has been transmogrified by aliens overnight and I’m just not aware of it.)
Were we having this conversation in person, I would assume that you could not hear me.
May I try one more time?
WHY is a fee service not under consideration?
There are only two reasonable answers to this.
1. “A fee based service is not possible because….” [followed by actual reasons, as opposed to “We decided not to consider it.”]
2. “I cannot answer this question because political pressure is forcing me to avoid the entire issue in any way that can be traced back to me.”
It seems that, for some reason, you have decided — or been forced to decide — to keep this entire decision-making process secret. You will not answer my question, and the minutes recording the meeting at which this decision was made are NOT, to my knowledge, online (as are minutes from other meetings).
Since WRL is a PUBLIC library offering a government service, this is not acceptable.
Let me quote from the Board of Trustees’ own by-laws, located online at http://www.wrl.org/info/policies/bylaws.html:
The mission of the Williamsburg Regional Library (“Library”) is as follows: Free access to information is a foundation of democracy. The Library,
a basic government service, provides that access through resources and programs that educate, enrich, entertain, and inform every member of our community.
This mission statement translates into the Library taking an active role in the communityâ€™s life, and provides an opportunity to stimulate ideas, to advance knowledge, and to enhance the quality of life for every resident.
The Library encourages the free exchange of ideas among people of a free society.
I am merely asking for free access to information about this public institution and the basic governmental service it provides. I will continue to follow up on this question until I am given an actual answer.
If you feel that you do not need to give me an answer because I do not live in one of the localities directly served by the Library, I would disagree. However, I am very happy to refer the question to any one of a number of Williamsburg residents who would like the same information.
An alternative suggestion: Would it be easier if I called you and we talked on the phone about this? Should you wish to call me instead, my cell phone number is (XXX) XXX-XXXX. I am available at any time.
Thank you for your continued willingness to answer my emails,
Susan Wise Bauer