Librarian fired for book on unsavory patrons. Okay, I first heard about this on NPR this morning, but with not a lot of information. It does have a local Michigan angle, taking place up in Ludington MI. The novel is (a) about weird library patrons, (b) written with a pseudonym, (c) but unfortunately had the author's library on the cover. Library Assistant Sally Stern-Hamilton, who wrote "The Library Diaries" by Ann Miketa, seems surprised that in a bastion of free speech like a library, that one could be fired for writing a book.
Here's The Problem:
Publish America issued the book ...
Uh-huh. This novel wasn't published, it was self-published. That means there was no editor, no one at a real book publisher to ask questions and find out if the author sufficiently disguised the patrons in the "work of fiction" so they weren't identifiable. No one saying, "Hey, how stupid is it to use the library in question on the cover?"
Having just been to the Writers of the Future and a whole workshop on being a professional writer, I know/appreciate/understand the value of having someone editing your words. And while some people are desperate enough to either skip the time or trouble of going the conventional route -- DO NOT SELF-PUBLISH if you want the world to take you seriously. Or keep you out of legal troubles.
Picky, Picky, Picky
Most of the articles and even the Chicago Tribune headline refer to the author as a Librarian. But when I looked at a link to the library in question, I noted that there was only one librarian plus another 10.25 employees. And after finding the Trib article, I note that she is referred to as a Library Assistant and not a librarian. Look, I'm not casting aspersions here, but (a) I'm married to a professional librarian and (b) I worked for a couple of years as a Library Assistant I at Northwestern University Library, so I am well aware that there can be a difference between professionals and employees. And I'm not sure a professional librarian would've made a mistake like this, risking exposure of patrons in a community, to say nothing of exposing the community library to lawsuits.
Anyway, this isn't just a free speech issue -- this about professionalism in both the workplace and in the world of publishing. Don't be misled by the headlines.