[The News & Observer]
Published: Dec 05, 2008 12:30 AM Modified: Dec 05, 2008 08:03 AM
UNC-CH libraries leave Christmas trees in storage
ERIC FERRERI, Staff Writer
CHAPEL HILL - For as long as anyone can remember, Christmas trees adorned with lights and ornaments have greeted holiday season visitors to UNC-Chapel Hill's two main libraries.
They aren't there this year.
The trees, which have stood in the lobby areas of Wilson and Davis libraries each December, were kept in storage this year at the behest of Sarah Michalak, the university's associate provost for university libraries.
Michalak's decision followed several years of queries and complaints from library employees and patrons bothered by the Christian display, Michalak said this week . . .
Aside from the fact that a UNC-CH library is a public facility, Michalak said, libraries are places where information from all corners of the world and all belief systems is offered without judgment. Displaying Christian symbols is antithetical to that philosophy, she said.
"We strive in our collection to have a wide variety of ideas," she said. "It doesn't seem right to celebrate one particular set of customs."
So the ‘Christmas wars’ rage on. I thought I sensed that there was perhaps a bit of a cease-fire this year. It appears I was wrong.
Yes, the dreaded Christmas tree. “For as long as anyone can remember” this library has displayed a Christmas tree. But suddenly, this year, a Christmas tree would mean ‘judgment’ on other ‘belief systems.’
We certainly wouldn’t want any patrons of the UNC-CH library to start evaluating ‘belief systems’ would we?
I wonder if this library ever puts up displays on any topic? My guess is that this happens. Why are these not matters of ‘judgment’?
If you take the Christmas tree to symbolize Christianity, then you are dealing with a way of thinking that claims a connection to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
But, as a matter of fact, every single patron of the UNC-CH library comes with a set of assumptions and conclusions which are used to evaluate everything in the library. Without that kind of starting point, all the ‘information’ would be nothing more than a meaningless jumble of raw data.
And is it not a bit amusing that Sarah Michalak, the university's associate provost for university libraries, has made a judgment in her decision about all this? Her judgement is that judgements should not be made.
Do associate provosts study logic? Probably not. They are too busy fighting those dreaded Christmas trees.