Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Vulnerability of Librarians

Scott Savage, a librarian at Ohio State's Mansfield campus, has been cleared of "harassment" charges filed against him by faculty members based on book recommendations he had made.

Savage had recommended "Freakonomics," but the faculty rejected it because it wasn't controversial enough and wouldn't inspire student debate. So he recommended several others, including a book called "The Marketing of Evil," by David Kupelian, which apparently includes anti-gay sentiments.

Faculty members enthroned at the rustic Mansfield campus of Ohio State then decided that they felt threatened and harassed by Savage's recommendations.

Savage was cleared by OSU after a conservative group threatened to sue the university. It seems reasonable to conclude Savage might well have lost his job at the library had he not been given legal assistance by the group.

This case highlights the vulnerability of librarians, especially in academia, where librarians like Savage must tread carefully, given the extreme lack of political diversity among faculty nationwide.

If anything, this provides another reason why academic librarians should have tenure, as it would help protect them from the whims of unreasonable faculty who don't care for their opinions. Librarians need additional job protection if they are to provide honest, professional service without fear of reprisals.

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