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Will Manley, Libraries, and Religion

posted May 23, 2011, 6:51 PM by Greg Smith   [ updated Dec 15, 2011, 5:31 PM ]
Over the weekend I discovered Will Manley's blog, Will Unwound. Manley has been a commentator on the library scene for several decades. I recall reading his American Libraries column from time to time over the years. However, it wasn't until last weekend that I saw him as someone seeking to connect faith and librarianship.

Many of Manley's faith-oriented discussions have come in weekend blog posts whose titles begin with the words "Sunday Meditation." The post that caught my attention was published last August as WILL UNWOUND #215: "Sunday Meditation: Librarians and Religion." There Manley reflects on the tense relationship between religion and librarianship in the United States. He concludes the post with the statement, "I am fascinated by the relationship between religion and librarianship and feel that this is as good a place as any to explore its many issues."

After reading this and other Will Unwound posts, I explored some of Manley's other writings and found that he has written elsewhere on the connections between religion and librarianship. In "The Conservatives among Us," published in American Libraries last October, Manley listed five elements of the conservative agenda--including two with religious dimensions--that mesh well with libraries. And last December he editorialized on the handling of creationist materials in a Booklist piece entitled "Darwin v. God."

It's somewhat unusual to find someone of Manley's stature who speaks enthusiastically (and publicly!) about religion and libraries. I wonder if his retired life has given him a sense of increased freedom to express himself on religious matters.* For those who are interested in exploring the connections between librarianship and religion (especially Christianity), I'm happy to point them to my Christianity and Libraries bibliography.

*Religion doesn't seem to the be the only controversial topic he's addressed recently. As I was about to finish this post, I did a bit of last-minute fact-checking and discovered his post about librarians and sex.