I’m an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything I read about religion.
So I decided to ask my local public library what they thought about science and faith in the 21st century.
A couple of months ago, I received a call from a man who’d been teaching at the library for about 15 years, and he told me he’d been thinking about what to write about the topic for the past few months.
I decided it would be interesting to hear his opinion.
So that’s what I did.
It turned out that a large portion of the library’s collection of religious science books and journals, including the one I was researching, were not about religion at all.
They were about science, technology, and the human condition.
“We were trying to figure out how we might expand our knowledge base in the way that the world needs it, in the time frame that we are currently in,” said Chris Koehler, the library manager, during our interview.
“And so I was interested in how we can do that in a way that’s in line with the values and the sensibilities of our community.”
The library’s mission statement, written in 2002, specifically states: “The mission of the Phoenix Public Library is to foster a knowledge-based and diverse community in the community through open access and digital technologies.”
The current mission statement states: The mission of The Phoenix Public Libraries is to provide a comprehensive resource and educational environment to support people of all backgrounds and abilities.
The libraries goal is to create a community that fosters diversity in the learning process.
And, they have.
“Our goal is not to be the largest library in the world, but rather to be a library that has an active, vibrant, and inclusive community,” said Koehl.
“To be inclusive of all, to be welcoming, and to support diverse students and students of all faiths, I think that is something that our library has always been committed to.”
The Phoenix library is an umbrella organization for the four largest libraries in Arizona, the Pima County Library System, the Tucson Public Library, the City of Phoenix Public library, and a nonprofit corporation called the PEMCO Foundation.
It’s not the first time the Phoenix library has been accused of bias.
Back in 2003, a group of Pima county residents filed a complaint with the Pemco Foundation alleging that the Phoenix libraries and libraries in neighboring communities were discriminating against them based on their religious beliefs.
The complaint said that the Pemaechee and Yampa communities were being denied access to books because of their religious views.
In response, the Phoenix branch of the Pemico Foundation, which was founded in 2003 and is run by two non-Christians, issued a statement that called the accusations “bogus.”
“The Pemochee and the Yampa Community of Arizona have repeatedly and forcefully asserted their right to free and equal access to information, but unfortunately have been unfairly targeted and unfairly maligned in an effort to deny access to our community members because of our faith,” the statement said.
“It is in this spirit that we, the undersigned, urge the Pomeechee Community of Phoenix to reconsider its discriminatory policy against the Yapa community, and support their right of free and equitable access to all books.”
So, is the Phoenix public library a place that’s more open to religious science than the Peralta Public Library?
The Pemucahas branch of The Arizona Board of Education has said that it does have a religious affiliation, but they’re not affiliated with any particular faith.
The library in Phoenix does have one on staff, and it’s a secular one.
And that’s why the library said it’s not a place where you would have to conform to their beliefs.
“They have a staff that is religious, so it’s definitely not a religion-based library,” said Doug Wohl, a board member.
“There’s a non-religious person on staff who’s doing an excellent job with that.
And it’s very supportive of religious books.
They’re very welcoming to anyone who has a question or a comment, so that makes it a great place to go.”
That’s one of the reasons that the library had to hire an atheist.
“I think a lot of people would say that that would be an appropriate position,” said Wohl.
“A number of people have asked, ‘What are you doing to attract atheists?’ and I don’t think we should be afraid of that.”
But, that’s not to say the library doesn’t welcome people with differing viewpoints.
“The library does have some secular books that are being offered, but it is definitely a diverse collection,” said Kirk.
“So that doesn to me, it would also be inappropriate for us to be discriminating against people based on religion.
And I think we have a very inclusive community here. We