Library Seeks Partnership with Churches in Indiana

More of your civil rights being eroded. A librarian in Indiana is seeking information about collaborating with churches to help with the library.

You want a church determining what you read and what is carried by your public library? How about public officials (librarians) actively seeking this information.

Culled from the Rural Librarian Association:

I am collecting stories of partnerships between libraries and religious organizations.  If your library has collaborated with a religious organization—whether successful or not—please message me off list with details.  I am interested in inspiring library staff to think creatively about outreach and collaborative opportunities.

Many thanks,
Jacqui Milliern
Youth Services Librarian
Mitchell Community Public Library
804 Main Street
Mitchell, Indiana 47446

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Thanks for the information James!

You're welcome. If you want to gamble a stamp, you can write her.

Just another example of why Indiana embarrasses the crap out of me. A state representative has now introduced a bill to make it a law to recite the Lord's Prayer in school classrooms! Can you believe that?

I think a request like that deserves a response, don't you? I wrote this over my lunch break, and am planning to mail it. Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. I plan to use my actual name on the letter.


Dear Jacqui,

My name is XXXXXX XXXXXXX. I am responding to your request for stories about collaboration between libraries and religious groups. This story is, in some ways, the opposite of what you asked for, but I hope that you can glean something from my experience.

I was born into a small, insular, evangelical church in 1989. Both of my parents were and are members of the sect, and when I began grade school 1995, parochial school was the only option.

I continued at the same school for the next twelve years.

While in attendance, my exposure to literature, media, and knowledge of the outside world generally was tightly controlled. The very modest school library was nearly two thirds religious literature. I know, because I ran the library for two years. The few books that were not published by the church's publishing houses were carefully selected, and even what was allowed was censored. In the school's ancient encyclopedias, David and Venus de Milo were covered up with permanent marker. The school's sole book about dinosaurs had the word "millions" covered in white out and replaced with "thousands". Needless to say, access to the internet was also tightly controlled.

The offering was insufficient for a growing mind. About the time I was in junior high, I started going to the public library to find resources to complete projects, papers, and presentations. But that wasn't all I found there. The free access to knowledge changed everything for me. For one, I learned that the 99.9% of the people on Earth who didn't believe in my church's "prophet" weren't secretly worshiping the devil. It sounds crazy, but that was what I had been taught. For another, I discovered you could learn about the world by studying it. We were all indoctrinated to believe that the only way to know anything was if it came from the Bible or the prophet's writings.

My love of and reliance on the public library grew year by year. The school required us in high school to complete 88 hours of "community service" a year, which we were strongly encouraged to do working on the grounds or facilities at the school, the church, or a certain large local business from which the church received financial support. I bucked the trend, and rather than taking provided transportation to one of these work sites, I rode my bike to volunteer at the public library. Later, I even got a job there for my last two years of high school. It was during these years that I took what I had learned at the public library and used that knowledge to try and improve the library at my school.

There are many well-meaning people, not knowing many details, who consider the cult in which I was raised to be a pillar of our community, despite its borederline abusive methods of keeping children in darkness. Unfortunately, there are churches in your area just as insidious, and you won't be able to tell the goats from the lambs. For me, had members from my church community been a significant part of the local public library, it would no longer have been a safe place for my mind to grow. It would have become just one more extension of the prison they had set up for their children.

Based on my experience, I pray that you choose to reconsider any collaboration between your library and local churches. Civic works, and libraries especially, are so uniquely special because they offer young people a chance to explore a different world than the one they grew up in. If churches become involved with the local public library, our children will be robbed of that opportunity.



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