A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Su Epstein Author Archive


Email: sepstein@columbiactlibrary.org  

Su Epstein holds a doctorate in Sociology from the University of Connecticut and began her career teaching Criminology, before changing careers to Libraryland.  She is currently the Library Director at Saxton B. Little Free Library in Columbia, CT.  Su is currently reading Odd Apocalypse by Dean Koontz.


illustration of a white bag with a dollar sign on it above a red hand

Fine Policies and Lost Item Policies

I have recently been contacted by several reporters in reference to an article I wrote in 2017 in which I disagree with the elimination of fines and learned that I was quoted in other venues. As this topic has gained more interest and political attention the issue is no longer one limited to libraries. However, […]

woman at a desk working on a computer

Mean Girls

The movie Mean Girls turns 15 this year. For those who might not be familiar, the plot tells of a homeschooled teen entering a public high school to interact with peers for the first time. Being the nerdy newbie she is treated poorly until she infiltrates the ‘in-group’ with the intent of turning the tables. In doing […]

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The Cost of Museum Passes

Without museum passes at the public library, how many economically-challenged individuals will not get to experience a museum’s collection and the knowledge it brings them?

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Why I Am Still Not Decorating My Library For Christmas

After much thought, I find myself in the same place. I will not decorate my library for Christmas, because Christmas is not a secular holiday. I will not decorate my library for any religious holiday. I feel that this is alienating for those who do not celebrate these particular faiths.

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Picture Book Discussion Group at the Library

Why not host an adult book club focused on picture books?

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Religion Versus Theology in Library Programming

While the series is on the topic of religion, we are not engaging in religious programming, but theological programming. That is, we are pursuing an academic discourse on the nature of belief in the divine and the various rituals that might display this belief for particular groups. 

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The Right To Be Apolitical

With the current political milieu, many of us have found ourselves thinking more about social justice, activism, and our personal as well as professional roles in politics. We have questioned the role of library staff and libraries in this context.

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The Growler

We have all experienced the public’s perception that libraries are quiet peaceful places, in which staff merely sit around and read.  This idyllic image is frequently presumed about my library as we are relatively small and rural.  Although we have had some significant incidents, such as the elderly gentlemen who drove his car six feet into our building, these are infrequent and we are thankful that we do not often experiences the challenges that some of our more urban colleagues face daily. Still, we are not immune.

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In Practice: Civility

In other blog posts I have expressed my beliefs that especially in today’s world, civility is imperative.  I have also expressed a belief that librarians have a responsibility to lead tolerance.  In response to these expressed beliefs some have challenged civility is a silencing tool of oppression and that tolerance is an unacceptable dodge of acceptance.  I believe these responses indicate experiences in which civility or tolerance have not been practiced.

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Behind the Scenes at the Library Gallery

Our gallery space has now completed three cycles.  My library board and the public love the space; they are thrilled to see original art work in the library.  However, I am now learning that I was not as prepared as I believed.

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Share, Write, Publish

It is both a blessing and a curse of public library librarians that we are busy. Whatever our title or job description, most of us wear many hats and juggle multiple and diverse responsibilities. For many, we consider ourselves lucky when we find time to go to a conference, read a list exchange, or even visit pages such as this.  Unlike our academic counterparts, most of us have no direct mandate to share our experiences, to present, or to publish. 

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To Fine or Not To Fine

Fines are a tangible reminder of the patron’s responsibility, the library’s importance, and the consideration of others.

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Making Social Change: Promote Civility

The public library by our mission and place within communities across the country is in a position to help facilitate positive social change. 

We Are The Second Responders

In my view, librarians are second responders; a later role that is much needed and of significant importance.  We are the group that enters the picture during the second wave of disaster relief, when many others have forgotten or grown weary of hearing of the situation.

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The Value of No

Saying no does not mean being rude or mean. Sometimes saying no is necessary.