I am a librarian at the University of Cincinnati. I came to my career later in life, going to library school in my late thirties. My undergraduate degree is in art history from the University of Cincinnati and my graduate degree is from IUPUI. At the University of Cincinnati my interactions with my fellow librarians have always been in the spirit of collegiality, whether we agree with each other or not. For the most part, we aim to keep politics out of our conversations and emails.
I am interested in the topic of free speech, especially in regard to the leftists attempts to silence, or even criminalize voices that they do not agree with. Censorship has become rampant in social media, publishing, business, education, and in the mainstream media. I heard about librarian Ron Kelleys’ situation while watching a news program. I was quite surprised to hear that a librarian was fired for his comments on the American Library Association’s discussion group, Association for Bookmobile Services (ABOS). I reached out to Kelley to hear about his plight and to offer support for his right to free speech.
Here is why he was fired: Kelley responded to the ABOS group when the head of Outreach and Communications Program Officer, Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services sent out a message to the members to support the movement Black Lives Matter. His response was reasoned and respectful. Kelley offered sources to consult that offered alternative viewpoints on the organization Black Lives Matter. This was not what the librarians wanted to hear. He was immediately attacked with words of hate.
The next day Kelley was fired when two librarians in that group contacted his employer and complained.
It is a shock to learn that librarians are now censoring each other with the unspoken understanding that we must all follow the leftist narrative or suffer the consequences. A large part of a librarian’s mission has always been to stand up and protect freedom of speech. What has happened to librarianship? Is a librarian required to follow the radical leftist viewpoints on every issue raging through our society today? Whether one disagrees with Kelley or not, Kelley must be able to offer his viewpoint or eventually YOUR viewpoint will be censored as well. You can debate with him but do not shut him down. Do not fire him. The ALA refused to let him defend himself. How can you not see that this is dangerous? YOU WILL BE NEXT—take a look at history and how totalitarian regimes controlled speech in our not so distant past.
Not everyone agrees with each other. The intention of the First Amendment is to protect speech you do not agree with.
I believe that librarians need to stand up NOW for free speech and be respectful to each other. We say we are committed to diversity. Let us prove it by NOT silencing voices that are diverse from ours.
I am proud to work at the University of Cincinnati. The president of the University of Cincinnati, Neville Pinto, is committed to free speech. In 2018 when white supremacist, Richard Spencer was going to speak on campus, Pinto said this is in a statement: “As a state institution, we must adhere to the foundational rights embedded in the First Amendment. That includes protecting speech of all types at all times—even, perhaps especially, words that are blatantly hateful or offensive. After all, we cannot silence those with whom we disagree without opening the doors to our own voices being silenced by those who disagree with us.”https://www.uc.edu/president/communications/speeches/2017/upholdin-the-first-amendment.html
Head of the Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning Library at the University of Cincinnati.
Article 2 of the COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT between UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI and AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI CHAPTER