In order to boldly move forward our mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity the Free Library must hold with great fidelity a space for dialogue, a space for nuance, and a space free of hate.
The Free Library recently received concerns over a blog post on freelibrary.org alongside three storytime videos on one of our branch’s social media pages featuring books about the Palestinian people. We took immediate action in reviewing the content in question, removing two storytimes that used language that the Free Library did not endorse and which was inconsistent with our values. We have strengthened our content guidelines, and met with local Jewish organizations and shared remedial measures to mitigate future occurrence. Yet the calls from critics to change our practices have continued and broadened.
The Free Library will always be a safe space for programs, dialogues, and books that lift up all voices—including those that have been historically marginalized. That is why you will see Author Events featuring prominent Israeli and Jewish authors; Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ resources, among others, on our website; and yes, books written by Palestinian and Palestinian-American writers. This may make some people uncomfortable; but it is what makes us the Free Library.
We reject anti-Semitism. We reject racism. We reject calls for censorship. And we reject any attempt to hinder our staff’s ability to share with the public our deep and rich collections. To do anything less is to do great disservice to all that a library can and should be.
The Free Library will work relentlessly to uphold these tenets for our staff and for our public. We stand by the actions that were taken in removing some of the content in question just as firmly as we stand by the actions that were taken to let some content remain.
Those who love and value the Free Library do so because of the fact that we cultivate these conversations; not in spite of it. And in that spirit, we thank you for your ongoing support.