James V. Brown Awarded Pa. Library of the Year 2021 | State
Williamsport, Pennsylvania – Each year the Pennsylvania Library Association recognizes a library for excellence in a number of categories. On October 26, the award was presented to the James V. Brown Library, 19 E. Fourth St., Williamsport.
This award recognizes excellence in the following areas during the previous year:
- Service to the public or to the university community
- Advance staff development
- Innovation in a special project, partnership or challenge overcome
- Leadership and support for the activities of the Association
One of the main reasons for the appointment, according to a press release from James V. Brown, is the library’s response to a “significant and public censorship challenge on their Pride Display in June.”
Associated reading: Commissioners call for books to be removed from Pride Display at the James V. Brown Library
After a visit to the library during Pride Month, Commissioner Scott Metzger posted a message on Facebook that read: “Lycoming County Commissioners provide just under $ 1.3 million for our 6 county libraries. . Two of the three curators asked the director of the library to remove these books from the exhibition and put them back on the shelves. “
The two commissioners behind the request were Metzger and Commissioner Tony Mussare, who defended their disapproval of the children’s wing material at a commissioners meeting that sparked outrage from the public and supporters of the statements by the commissioner.
Related Reading: Pride Rally, Dance Party, and Extended Public Commentary Surround Lycoming County Commissioner’s Meeting
“These books are for kids who have no idea what sexuality or gender identity is at this age,” Metzger said.
“Commissioner Metzger shows a staggering lack of awareness of what really influences children in a society,” replied Luke Moyer, chairman of the Lycoming County Libertarian Committee. “Every day our children are exposed. We expose them to the best practices for crossing the street, we expose them to the right ways to acquire goods when shopping at an establishment, we expose them to how they should address others in a conversation, and we expose them to our relationships, ”he said.
Other speakers at the meeting said having books that affirmed their “difference” – which they recognized at a young age – in plain sight would have been a life affirming.
According to the American Library Association, “The First Amendment gives anyone residing in the United States the right to hear all aspects of every issue and to make their own judgment on those issues without government interference or limitation. “
Libraries are forced to serve the needs of an entire community, and elected officials cannot take this right away from the public. Hiding content, according to the ALA, is tantamount to restricting access.
In receiving the honor of Library of the Year, James V. Brown Trustees said their ability to overcome the situation fostered a “welcoming environment for the LGBTQ + community” and communicated “the core values of public libraries: generate community support in honor of the essential role of public libraries of being welcoming places of tolerance and respect for every citizen of our community. “
“Through it all, the Library has remained strong, respectful, open to discussion and firm in our core values. “
Related reading: James V. Brown Library in Williamsport receives donation of LGBT books to help promote a more inclusive community
“We are grateful to have been recognized as Library of the Year by the Pennsylvania Library Association for overcoming a difficult censorship challenge and for all the support we have received from families in the community who are in need of various resources. Said Barbara S. McGary, Executive Director of the Library, who accepted the award. “I hope our efforts to honor and respect every family in our community will give other libraries the courage to do so. “
NorthcentralPa.com has contacted Commissioners Metzger and Mussare for comment, but has not received a response.
To celebrate, an open house will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, November 12 in the children’s area with light refreshments. Tours of the library will be available upon request. Come celebrate with us!
According to the PaLA Award Certificate, “The courage shown by the staff of the James V. Brown Library in facing this challenge is an inspiration to all libraries in Pennsylvania. “
The library is an institutional member of the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA), a PA Forward Gold Star library, and serves as the North Central Library District hub for PA Forward. Library staff served on several PaLA committees and two staff members participated in the PaLA Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS) leadership program.
Previous winners were the Memorial Library of Nazareth & Vicinity in 2020; Chester County Library, Chester County, in 2019; and the Martin Library, York County Library System, in 2018.