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Librarian responds to mask protests

| February 24, 2021 9:25 AM

I’ve heard some concerns about the mask requirement at the library and I’d like to share my thinking as library director with you. 

Here is what I have heard. 

“Your mask requirement is infringing on my individual rights.” 

I see the mask policy at the library as a way of protecting your individual rights.  

Here’s why. 

For most of us when we feel our rights are being violated it brings up feelings of anger, the need to protect, and to take action in a way that other policies do not. That’s at least how I feel when I think somebody, especially the government, is infringing upon my rights. 

Protecting your constitutional rights is at the heart of my responsibility as a library director. Preventing political or personal influence from dictating what you do and don’t have access to is what keeps me up at night. 

Here’s the potential headline in the Daily Inter Lake that I’m trying to avoid by continuing to recommend safety precautions at the library.  

“Staff illnesses force closure at ImagineIF Libraries; libraries closed to in-person services, offering curbside only until further notice.  
The county library was one of the few big libraries in Montana to open to in-person services. Library Director is concerned that it could take weeks to reopen.” 

As I see it, THAT could be a real threat to your individual rights. 

If the library isn’t open you are going to have to turn to other sources for your information. Sources that do not have the responsibility or obligation to be rights-driven like a public library does. So, if the library closes and you turn to other sources only, then your rights may be infringed upon because private companies are not obligated to ensure that personal and political beliefs aren’t influencing the information you see. And there is also the expense of purchasing your own materials to consider. 

We recognize not everyone sees rights at risk like we do. For patrons who cannot or do not want to wear a mask, here’s how we’re trying to meet their needs: we offer curbside pickup, personal shopping service, virtual programs, laptop and WiFi check out, and expanded digital collections.  

I will also make unique arrangements for patrons who need something we haven’t thought of yet. 

We take the protection of your individual rights seriously. If you think I’m overlooking something regarding how to better protect them please reach out to me at cbehe@imagineiflibraries.org or 406-758-5824 

We might not always agree on the specifics like, if masks work or if the pandemic is overblown, but I think it’s safe to say each of us takes our individual rights seriously. My responsibility to protect yours is my most fundamental responsibility. 
 

Connie Behe 


ImagineIF

Library Director