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Greenfield Library clarifies its position in wake of recall effort

Some political elements, but not all, are acceptable inside

March 13, 2012

Greenfield - After hearing the "harrumphs" of people who thought gathering signatures on Scott Walker recall petitions was not allowed in the lobby of the Greenfield Library, the Library Board last week clarified its position.

Political activities are OK, the board decided unanimously, as long as the activity doesn't interfere with normal library functions.

For years, people have gathered signatures on political nomination papers in the library lobby, said Sheila O'Brien, library director. But when the Walker recall got rolling, so did some grumbling.

"That's what brought it to our attention if we should or shouldn't permit it," O'Brien said.

Library policy itself was silent on gathering signatures in the lobby, she said.

Library Board President Kathy Luty said, "We understand there are feelings on both sides, but we felt it was a logical extension of what we allowed in the past."

The board formally declared that the lobby is a limited public forum to be used by the public. It also added literature about political events, such as upcoming candidate forums, to the list of items allowed on the literature racks and table in the library lobby.

Campaign literature still is not allowed on racks or in the lobby, though people can stand in the lobby and hand out such literature. That policy is in line with the library's mission of being a place where citizens can get educated, Luty said.

While approving these changes, the Library Board was careful to make sure no one thinks the library endorses any political effort or candidate. It added the statement that the library maintains strict neutrality on all issues.

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