The Friday Follow-up: Spending Time in Scio & the Library Bill of Rights

Friday Follow-up:
a message from Brian M. Hildreth, STLS Executive Director
Spending Time in Scio & the Library Bill of Rights
Sue Moyer of Scio Memorial Library in Allegany County took time out of her busy day to spend with me in late June. We drank coffee, talked libraries and caught-up on similarities and differences. It was a conversation I really enjoyed.
Below you will find six fundamental characteristics shared by all American public libraries.


  1. Supported by taxes
  2.  Governed by a board
  3.  Open to all
  4.  Voluntary participation
  5.  Established by state law
  6.  Provides services without charge.


These attributes are referenced by Richard E. Rubin in the text Foundations of Library and Information Science. I have read many of its pages recently as STLS prepares to launch a new initiative. It is something we have worked on with Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System for the benefit of our membership. We plan to release this new program in the fall of 2017.

Lately, I have focused my thinking around the idea of “Open to all”. I am quite certain our members subscribe to the Library Bill of Rights. It is the one fundamental policy all libraries should have in their manual, which is core to our professional beliefs. It is rooted in the work of the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom.

Statement V of the Library Bill of Rights specifically states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.” ALA keeps this statement as broad as possible to ensure our highly diverse nation understands the public library is a space of total inclusion.


STLS’ Plan of Service 2017 – 2021 also highlights the importance of this philosophy.
Goal Statement #19: Make Visible Southern Tier Libraries’ Position on Social Inclusion for All


Purpose: Inform community leaders and residents that Southern Tier public libraries subscribe to the Library Bill of Rights and will provide safe, comfortable and welcoming spaces for all residents.


Next week the STLS Board of Trustees will reaffirm their belief in the Library Bill of Rights through a formal meeting resolution. The intent is to take a brief moment and think about what this document means to our system, and our role in upholding such values as administrators. It may seem like a small gesture, but it sets the tone for how STLS stakeholders conduct themselves.


Summer is upon us, so I really enjoy using this time to visit with member libraries. Most members are busy with reading programs, entertaining tourists and catering to summer residents. It is when our librarians do some of their finest work. In the coming weeks I look forward to reporting on their remarkable efforts.


Most recently, I spent some time with Sue Moyer, director at Scio Memorial Library in Allegany County. I have known Sue for many years because our libraries were in adjacent communities while I served at the David A. Howe Public Library in Wellsville.


We would email and phone each other often about things happening in both communities. It was an informal way of ensuring we provided the best possible service. Directors also just need an in-kind support system.


We still talk today, but at times it is in a changed capacity. One of the things I learned when becoming a system director is that the dynamic between system director and member directors is different. The relationship is still positive, but the system director is charged to serve the member director. If I receive input regarding system services (good or bad), it is my responsibility to respond timely. This is a tough balancing act with 44 different directors, but one that I enjoy immensely.


Spending a couple hours in Scio really reinforced my belief in “Open to all”. Sue and I enjoyed sitting in two comfy chairs drinking coffee and talking about issues that matter most to Allegany County libraries. Like any rural librarian, Sue had to do her own balancing act of serving her patrons and talking with me.


Several community members visited the library for different reasons. Sue catered to each one of their needs consistently. Each patron was treated equally regardless of “origin, age, background, or views.” At times, she was serving multiple patrons at once while instituting the same level of service.The last patrons who entered were  of a multi-generational family. Grandmother, mother and daughter all enjoyed talking and laughing with their local librarian. Sue was in her element.


As our circulation desks and program rooms see an influx of patrons in the coming weeks, please take a moment to reaffirm your own belief in the Library Bill of Rights. Board members can take the lead on this by ensuring it is earmarked as the first page of every policy manual. Let our ethics and values guide us in a in every aspect of the work we do.
Have a great weekend, STLS!


Kindest Regards,

Brian Hildreth, Executive Director
Southern Tier Library System

Read past Friday Follow-ups: