Library Statement on the Events in Charlottesville, VA

Members of the LMU Community:

As professional librarians and student educators, we condemn the ideas propagated by white supremacists, Nazis and Nazi-sympathizers, and the various “alt-right” groups who participated in the Unite the Right march this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. The viewpoints espoused by these groups are built on ignorance and hatred, neither of which have a place in our library.

In January, we released a statement reaffirming our pledge to exemplify the principles of the Jesuit, Marymount, and St. Joseph of Orange traditions in promoting critical inquiry and reflection and to serve as a central marketplace for intellectual and creative discovery. Today we reaffirm our commitment to this and long-standing library traditions, including the promotion of intellectual freedom which we assert does not obligate us to provide a platform to views that perpetuate racism and bigotry.

For us, this event brings into focus a long-held belief about libraries and their place in civil society: that libraries should be neutral. We are not and have never been neutral. We embrace the idea that the William H. Hannon Library has always been a space for community engagement and open dialogue. However, while we have a professional obligation to engage patrons in diverse perspectives, we do not condone or defend hate speech and violence. The right to free speech may be constitutionally protected, but we as librarians also reserve the right to protect our patrons, especially our patrons of color, from speech that is hateful and denies their human dignity.

Our library is a space for intellectual discovery, creative pursuits, and fruitful collaboration. Through the development of our collections and the expertise of our staff, we provide a portal to a variety of resources representing diverse, informed perspectives. As librarians and library staff, it is our responsibility to provide a welcoming and safe environment where patrons can freely engage in their academic endeavors without the threat of violence or intimidation. When we deliberately choose to preserve extremist perspectives in our collections (e.g. published literature and archival materials), we do so in order to promote a deeper understanding of our shared human condition and to discourage repeating the tragedies that racism and hatred inflict upon our communities.

We stand with the victims and the families of those affected by this tragedy. We stand with those who fight for inclusion and social justice. We stand against any attempts to intimidate or silence our students and our community.

The Staff of the William H. Hannon Library