|It's just Linda, but it shouldn't be.|
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015
It's Just Linda (But It Shouldn't Be)
The OPPL's incident reports show this is part of a larger pattern, where library staff either looked the other way or refused to call the police when other crimes were committed inside this public facility. The incident reports contain instances where men masturbated openly at computers, aroused themselves sexually in front of passers-by, accosted and stalked women, and approached children sexually.
I believe that OPPL management purposefully does not call the police in these instances because arrests would make it into the police blotter in the local newspapers and that would be harder to hide than the library's own internal incident reports. Those reports were kept hidden until they were reluctantly produced by the library responsive to Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requests. I actually sued the OPPL for violations of our state's FOIA because library management refused to produce some documents and had been lying about the existence of other materials (that they magically produced later, after claiming they didn't exist). Two lawsuits later, the OPPL has finally produced these documents. A yearlong FOIA investigation revealed that time and again the management of the OPPL was always more concerned with public relations and keeping the truth from the public than in stopping illegal behavior inside the library.
The OPPL is an interesting case study because its director, Mary Weimar, is heavily influenced by the teachings of the American Library Association. The ALA's presence haunts this library and seems to encourage Weimar to do things that are at odds with the best interests of the community that the OPPL is supposed to serve. The ALA is a special interest group and is not accountable to voters, so this creates a situation where taxpayers are harmed by the ALA directing library directors like Weimar to do things that harm the taxpayers' community.
Weimar made the decision not to call the police when child porn was reported to her in her library. This is in keeping with the ALA's "crisis management" advice of limiting bad press for libraries. In my opinion, this woman should not still have a job as a library director. Not calling the police when child porn is accessed is not a "mistake"…it is a horrific and deliberate act that allowed a criminal to escape and have continued opportunities to commit this crime again. The community is not well-served by a library director electing to keep quiet when three witnesses come forward and attest that a man known to the library director accessed child porn in her library. Weimar should be ashamed of herself, but the ALA has rewarded her with "intellectual freedom awards" and other prizes as an encouragement to continue doing what she's been doing.
Through the years, employees of the OPPL have complained to Weimar about the sexually charged atmosphere that has been allowed to fester in this library. Specifically female employees have consistently complained about "creepy" men who have camped out in the library's computer section for hours, arousing themselves sexually at the computers. As they sat there exciting themselves sexually, their eyes would drift to the female employees in the area. Then they'd make faces or gestures or would become even more emboldened and take things further. One employee was so scared of one of these men (who had been following her around the library) that she went to Weimar and told her she was scared for her safety and was going to file a police report. Weimar told her that she should quit.
This is a theme at the OPPL, where if an employee complains about the sexually hostile atmosphere in the library then that employee is told to quit.
It's shocking that this is tolerated in a workplace. Again, it stuns me that Mary Weimar still has a job and that the Board of Trustees of the Orland Park Public Library has not raked her over the coals for the decisions that she has made in her position.
In November of 2013, a very brave woman named Linda Zec attended one of the OPPL's board meetings and told her story (link). She, like other employees before her, had complained to Mary Weimar about the sexually charged atmosphere and the creeps who hung out at the library's computers sexually arousing themselves in her workplace. Zec reported that she was told to "like it or lump it." If she wanted to work at the library then she needed to tolerate the sexual activity happening in that computer area. These were not men engaged in intellectual pursuits at those computers. This was not "information" they were seeking. This was an area of the library that management knew was being used for sexual arousal in public, but employees who complained about it were told they should quit if they didn't like what was going on.
Can you imagine employees in other facilities or businesses being told something similar?
* A woman working the counter at the DMV. She sees a man sitting in the waiting area on a laptop masturbating. She complains to her supervisor about what's happening. Does anyone think the police wouldn't be called or that the woman would be told she had to do nothing and allow this to keep happening?
* A waiter in a restaurant notices the men at table 69 are watching sexually arousing material on their smartphones. The men look up every once in a while, make eye contact with the waiter, and lick their lips lasciviously. The waiter feels uncomfortable being stared at. The men camp out for hours and every time he walks by, the waiter is given the creeps. Does anyone think the restaurant manager would allow this to happen or tell the waiter he should quit if he does not like this?
* A clerk at Kinko's is told by three witnesses that a man at one of their computers is accessing child porn. What do you think the clerk would do? Does anyone believe that the Kinko's manager would not call the police? Is there any chance that Kinko's would have allowed the man accessing the child porn to not only get away, but come back the next day with police still not being called?
What's most remarkable about the Orland Park Public Library is how management has somehow convinced employees there that the laws of the United States end at the library's doors. In a strange way, Mary Weimar as director seems to have conned the employees of this library into believing that the library is a sovereign entity, like some kind of embassy, and laws such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Act and statutes against public indecency and lewd behavior don't apply inside the library.
This is a problem, because if it is happening at the OPPL then it must be happening elsewhere. I'd wager that libraries under the control and sway of the ALA have this problem. The employees seem to be taught that people who work in libraries are not protected by the EEOA and that members of the public are allowed to masturbate and engage in sex inside a library, because of "intellectual freedom".
This is madness.
The doors to the OPPL have large graphics noting that drugs are not allowed inside the library. Firearms are not allowed as well. But, child porn was accessed in this facility and the OPPL and its board has admitted this. They also admitted that nothing was ever done to ensure that child porn was never accessed again here. The OPPL has a clear pattern of not involving in the police when something bad happens in the library that would embarrass the OPPL if it made it into the local paper's police blotter. Employees who work in this building are flatly told that if they don't like this environment, they can walk out through the door and no longer work there.
This is a problem. To a person, everyone I've spoken to about the OPPL has always asked the same thing, "Why do the employees put up with Mary Weimar?" I don't have a good answer for that. They seem to be afraid of her, for some reason. Maybe because the Board of Trustees knows what she's doing and allows her to keep doing it that the employees think she must be allowed to behave this way.
The majority of people working in the OPPL are women. Most of the part-timers or lower level staffers are suburban housewives or empty-nesters who thought a job at the local library would be fun. They wanted to shelve books, read to children, get out of the house, and make a little money. These women are not attorneys. A lot of their husbands work for the Village of Orland Park or have family members that work for local government in some way. These are not wave-makers. These are women who by and large do as they are told, show up to work on time, and love the idea of working in a library and getting out of the house now that their kids are either in school or out of the house.
So, when they are told by Mary Weimar that they have to just accept the fact that men will be arousing themselves sexually in their workplace, these women go along with that. Clearly, they don't like it…but they don't think they have any alternative but quitting. It seems that the OPPL trots out the "intellectual freedom" propaganda and these women, not being attorneys, just accept what they are being told, even though it's all a serious violation of the EEOA.
No employer can tell an employee that she has to tolerate sexual activity in her workplace. No employee in this country has to work in a place where men are allowed to sit around arousing themselves sexually and even masturbating in a working environment. Sexual arousal and masturbation are supposed to happen in people's homes, behind closed doors….NOT in a public library.
But, the nice suburban women who work in the OPPL don't know how to stand up to Mary Weimar and others in management that have created this problem. They saw what happened to the women in the past who complained and they know the pattern: if you complain, you lose your job. They want to keep their jobs, so they suffer in silence.
I think Linda Zec is a real hero for speaking out (link). To date, she's the only former library employee I've encountered who is courageous enough to come forward and talk about how wrong it is for libraries to allow men to sexually arouse themselves at computers in these public facilities. She's the first former library employee I have ever heard talk about how ridiculous it is that libraries look the other way when men abuse the facilities and engage in sexual activity and harassment of library employees.
It feels like everyone else is afraid of losing their jobs. The reason that the ideological Left and special interest groups like the ALA win so often is because good people are either afraid to speak out or they don't know what to do. They don't know their rights. The ALA is a bully organization that is well-funded and seemingly powerful. A library director like Mary Weimar seems entrenched in her position, with a board that refuses to remove her.
So, what can an employee who feels uncomfortable in a sexually charged workplace do in a situation like this? It's especially problematic for an employee who needs the job. While a lot of OPPL employees are working there for something fun to do and a little extra spending money, there are others whose families depend on those paychecks. They have to keep on Mary Weimar's good side if they want to keep feeding their children.
I believe that the ALA counts on all of this. It counts on library employees being somewhat meek by nature and for the majority of them to be older women who don't know their legal rights. The ALA depends on these people being the kind who are afraid of lawyers and who think it takes a lot of money to speak to an attorney or to bring a sexual harassment suit against their employer.
I am certain this dam will break at some point in the future…and when it does a public library somewhere is going to have to shell out millions of dollars in sexual harassment penalties for doing what the OPPL has been doing and allowing a sexually hostile workplace to fester for its employees. It's only a matter of time. The atmosphere feels a lot like living in the early 1990s before the big tobacco verdicts started coming in from juries, after all those decades when the cigarette manufacturers dodged responsibility for the health damages their products caused. John Grisham's "The Runaway Jury" novel was about a fictitious suit against Big Tobacco…where the first huge judgment against them came in.
That book was written in 1995 and it was unthinkable that tobacco companies could be wiped out by lawsuits related to cancer. But, by the time that the "Runaway Jury" movie with John Cuzack was made in 2003, the world had changed and of course everyone believed that Big Tobacco was responsible for cancer…and the tobacco industry was paying out millions a year in damages to new cases on a rolling basis to correct decades of malfeasance.
I believe that public libraries are in for something similar and that places like the OPPL are going to be sued under the EEOA. I think like Big Tobacco that the ALA is going to eventually collapse as well, and that the sexual harassment of libraries is going to be akin to the kind of suit that featured in "Runaway Jury".
It's just an untenable position for the ALA and library directors like Mary Weimar to insist that library employees have to work in a place where men arouse themselves sexually and masturbate. And no matter how many spokesmen and "crisis managers" a library has, in the age of social media when a library director refuses to call the police when child porn is accessed and refuses to do anything to stop other illegal activity from happening in a public building, then at some point the public is going to rise up against library management.
What's really a shame is that library employees coast to coast are not more like Linda Zec. Right now, it's just Linda speaking out against this madness. She's one woman (though a brave and articulate one). But, more women who have personally encountered the problems that allowing sexual arousal and activity in libraries has caused need to step forward and speak out.
I look forward to the day when library employees are all educated in their legal rights under the EEOA and start suing libraries coast to coast for sexual harassment. I doubt the ALA will be able to hold much of any power if that starts happening.
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Labels: ALA, Award, bullying, Child Porn, Constructive Discharge, Crisis Management, EEOC, FOIA, Harassment, Intellectual Freedom, Linda Zec, Mary Weimar, OPPL, Orland Park IL, Orland Park PL, Police, Sexual Harassment