Because I used to work in a library, the place felt familiar in many ways. Lots of books, yes. A bank of computer stations, yes. Tables and chairs arranged around the room. Best of all, young faces asking (often shyly) me about my own books, about writing in general, and of course, what had attracted me to write a book about Amelia Earhart. The one that made me stumble, I think, was from a Grade 11 boy who asked for my definitive idea of what had really become of her. As if I might be able to provide a reasonable answer!
I'll admit that during breaks, I wandered the stacks, looking at the collection. While I was especially impressed by the many books there by Indigenous authors, I was surprised to spot a couple of books that have been pulled by many libraries. Why? Because those authors aren't exactly what they've claimed to be, their heritage isn't really Indigenous.
When I spoke with the librarian about this, she explained that it was an issue they were still dealing with. Clearly, it presented a conflict that staff there were trying to draw some lines around. When should (if ever) should a book be removed from a library? When should readers be denied the opportunity to decide for themselves?
Such questions are exactly why we observe Freedom to Read Week. There was a terrific piece by the head of the Calgary Library System offering some strong thoughts in 'Why our fight for intellectual freedom matters for all Canadians.'
I especially loved her closing line: "I don't always agree with everything on library shelves, but I will always fight for your right to read it." Exactly.