LUDINGTON, Mich. — A library employee in this Lake Michigan resort community has been fired for writing a book that describes a range of unpleasant patrons, from the merely unpleasant to online sex fiends, in a town she calls "Denialville."
Using the pen name Ann Miketa, Sally Stern-Hamilton wrote Library Diaries, which she describes as a fictional account based on her on-the-job experiences.
"After working at a public library in a small, rural Midwestern town (which I will refer to as Denialville, Michigan, throughout this book) for fifteen years, I have encountered strains and variations of crazy I didn't know existed in such significant portions of our population," she wrote in the book's introduction.
The novel does not name Ludington, but its photo collage cover includes a small picture of the Ludington library.
Library officials learned the author's identity, suspended Stern-Hamilton as a library assistant on July 15 and fired her 10 days later. They say she did not appeal the firing within the 10 days allowed under district policies, according to the Ludington Daily News.
Publish America issued the book, and its online catalog offers this description:
"The Library Diaries reads like Seinfeld meets Lou Dobbs meets Glenn Beck. Issues that most of us are afraid to talk about, issues we have had to veil through humor, are talked about candidly by the author, who has seen the terrible consequences of us not talking about these issues — children's lives.
"Open this book and you'll meet the naked patron, the greedy, unenlightened patrons, destination hell, the masturbator, horny old men, Mr. Three Hats, and a menagerie of other characters you never dreamt were housed at your public library."
In a letter telling Stern-Hamilton she was being suspended, library Director Robert Dickson said the book's subjects weren't hard to recognize.
"While you stop short of naming the individuals you targeted in your book, your detailed descriptions of their unique characteristics and mannerisms make them easily identifiable in our small community," Dickson said.
Stern-Hamilton said what happened to her goes against the spirit a library is supposed to represent.
"The absolute irony is that the public library is a pillar of free speech, and leads me to wonder why the administration is so upset. It's fiction," she said.