Further Thoughts on the Morton Grove Public Library Controversy

The first and most fundamental obligation of a public library—of any tax-funded public service—is to serve all members of their community equally and impartially.

A public library cannot be allowed to take any action, nor take any official public stance, which jeopardizes or undermines their impartiality or the equity of their service to members of their community.

A Library Board should never be allowed to take any action that puts a public library in such a position.

A public library absolutely cannot be allowed to pick and chose which groups within its community it accepts and which it doesn’t.

This issue in Morton Grove began when Hemant Mehta conducted a fundraiser in support of the Morton Grove Park District. There was an explicitly religious context for Mr. Mehta’s donation to the Park District and they turned it down. You can read about more about it here:

Park district returns donation to atheist blogger by Jonathan Bullington (posted on the Chicago Tribune on December 3, 2013)

The Morton Grove Public Library wasn’t involved in those events. Furthermore, Mr. Mehta’s donation to the library came with no statements of religious conviction and had no stipulations on how the money was to be spent.

Therefore, the context that applied in the case of the Park District is entirely irrelevant to his donation to the library. As far as the Morton Grove Public Library is concerned, Mr. Mehta is simply a private individual who sought to make a general purpose donation.

In refusing to accept Mr. Mehta’s donation on the basis of his personal religious beliefs, the Library Board has taken an official public stance opposing atheists within the Morton Grove community.

See for yourself – the board meeting is online, along with Mr. Mehta’s point-by-point rebuttal of the Board’s discussion:

There’s Video of the Morton Grove Public Library Board of Trustees Calling This Site a ‘Hate Group’ by Hemant Mehta (posted on Friendly Atheist on December 20, 2013)

This shatters the requirement of the Morton Grove Public Library to remain impartial and equitable to all members of the Morton Grove community.

The Morton Grove Public Library Board cannot be allowed to do this. They cannot be allowed to put the library in this position.

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