Rejected Santa Claus leads to criticism of Barrington library
For the second time this fall, volunteers are expressing disappointment with a decision and what they see as a lack of adequate communication on the part of the Barrington Area Library regarding their involvement.
This time, it's Barrington resident Barb Germain who's sore over the library's rejection, for reasons she feels remain unclear, of a $20 Santa Claus figure she bought for her garden club's annual display in the library's youth services department.
"I was speechless, and that was amazing for me," she said. "I thought Santa was for children, but I guess not."
The flap comes less than two months after some members of the Friends of the Barrington Area Library expressed disappointment with library's handling of renovations that could force the cancellation of their traditional used book sales.
Germain's disappointment began last week when she was told by Daria Sapp — a fellow member of the Council of Barrington Garden Clubs — that the library would not display the Santa Claus figure.
What was not clearly communicated was the reason why.
Karen McBride, the library's public information manager, said a decision previously had been made not to have a display in the youth services area this year. The library's only holiday display is in the main lobby.
McBride concedes that this information was not forwarded to the Council of Barrington Garden Clubs, and admits the library made a mistake by initially accepting Germain's contribution.
But Sapp says that when library Executive Director Detlev Pansch informed her the Santa would not go on display there was no mention of the change. Instead, she said, Pansch told her the rejection came from a need for the library to be "sensitive."
Both Sapp and Germain took that to mean the Santa Claus was being turned down because it represents a religious holiday.
Pansch, however, said the cancellation of the youth services display this year was the only reason the Santa Claus figure was turned down. The library has a holiday display in its lobby with a Christmas tree and a Santa Claus figure under it, he noted.
McBride backed up that account, saying that while the library does have an obligation to be sensitive to people of all faiths, that had nothing to do with the rejection of Germain's Santa.
"Nobody wants to hurt anybody's feelings," McBride said. "We have to walk a very fine line. We do get comments or complaints from patrons the other way."
Germain said she doesn't accept that explanation.
"They're just covering themselves," she said.
"What about the people who want it?" she added. "Why is it always the people who don't want it that get their way?"
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