To: The New York City Public Library
From: Feminists in Struggle
We are a national group that fights for women’s rights, with members from across the United States. We are appalled by your recent decision to cancel a planned event by the group Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF). By denying one group access to the Library, you have not only violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but have, in effect, become censors, in direct contradiction to the core principles of the history of your own institution!
The American Library Association, the oldest U.S library professional organization, has stated in its Library Bill of Rights: “VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”
Even during the “communist witch-hunt period” of the 1950’s the Library Service stood its ground and refused to bow to enormous and intimidating pressure from Senator Joseph McCarthy, et al, by refusing to remove library books deemed “subversive” by his committee. Your recent decision flies in the face of this proud tradition of defending the rights of public library users to be exposed to a diversity of opinion.
Recently, the Seattle Public Library, when faced with a similar decision, regarding this same group (WoLF), made a decision opposite your own. Their statement reads as follows:
These values are easy to stand by when we agree with the viewpoints being shared, but when viewpoints challenge us in uncomfortable ways, it certainly becomes more difficult. It is in these difficult moments we must stand particularly firm in supporting the right to free speech in order to preserve that right for everyone.
We strongly urge you to follow their lead and look forward to your rescinding this terrible decision and replacing it with one that is more in line with both the proud history of the U.S. Library Service and the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution!