First Amendment topicsAbout the First Amendment
News Story
 
Page-turner about library patrons gets staffer fired

By The Associated Press
08.22.08

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.


Related

Federal judge sides with librarian fired for wearing cross necklace

Kentucky library had argued that dress code was meant to avoid appearance of religious favoritism, protect librarian impartiality. 09.04.03

Mo. librarian prevails in quest not to work on Sabbath
Connie Rehm was reinstated on judge's order to job she lost in 2003 when library added Sunday hours and she refused on religious grounds. 11.17.06

News summary page
View the latest news stories throughout the First Amendment Center Online.

print this   Print


Last system update: Sunday, January 25, 2009 | 06:14:23
 SEARCH  MORE
About this site
About the First Amendment
About the First Amendment Center
Video/RSS/podcasts
First Amendment programs
State of the First Amendment
reports

First Reports
Supreme Court
Experts
Columnists
First Amendment publications
First Amendment Center history
Glossary
Freedom Sings™
Events
First Amendment
Schools

Congressional Research Service reports
Guest editorials
FOI material
The First Amendment
Library

Lesson plans
freedomforum.org
Newseum
Contact us
Privacy statement
Related links