As a young librarian I feel compelled to respond to Larry Gross' Living Out Loud column "Shhhhh!" (issue of Jan. 16). While I do not work for the Cincinnati Public Library (CPL) system, I do fully understand and appreciate the services the CPL offers its patrons.
The public library is meant to be a free resource available to all Hamilton County residents regardless of demographic factors such as race, class, age, education level, etc. In saying this, librarians and library staff are trained to be as non-judgmental and open-minded as possible when dealing with "troublesome' patrons." I imagine this would be extremely difficult to do in a location with deep racial tension and a concentrated population that falls below poverty level such as the system's Main Branch downtown.
The problems Gross witnessed are typical in most large, urban public service-oriented facilities. In saying this, while I found his critique entertaining, I also found the argument somewhat misguided. Rather than question what is wrong with the library and/or its staff, perhaps he should focus his questioning on what's wrong with the social structure that dictates our behavior patterns and deems this type of behavior appropriate.
— Kara Allison, Contract Librarian Cincinnati Art Museum
Govt. to Blame
I read Larry Gross' column on the Main Public Library ("Shhhhh!," issue of Jan. 16), and what he describes doesn't surprise me anymore. I was a librarian for nine years and still love libraries, but this was one of the reasons that I left.
I didn't want to be a social worker again, but libraries were being forced into this role because others — like city and county administrations — were abrogating theirs.
— Greg Bryant, Crestview