Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


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Of late, public and school librarians have repeatedly encountered the unwillingness of many conservative communities and/or schools to support socially just collections and services. This article seeks to broaden the discussion of the factors involved. It does so for several reasons. The first is the reality that achieving a number of socially just library services in conservative communities will require the development of local coalitions. By their very nature coalitions often require compromise. This leads to the second reason, a recognition of the political limitations resulting from progressive demands for a total commitment to progressive ends to secure recognition as “allies.” This overlooks the reality that certain conservatives can occasionally support what may be termed progressive objectives while some liberals can be consistently conservative on moral issues. The third reason, is the reality that United States history regularly demonstrates strong resistance to progressive legislation and regulation. Ironically, this reflects an 18th century privileging of individual freedoms over collective justice that long predates the more modern belief that government has an obligation to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. The point is stressed that in conservative communities what is needed is a greater understanding of when political realities require compromises and a mixed belief coalition for achieving aspects of the overall goal of progressive change.