It is difficult for readers to have an opinion about the commentary from Jay Ambrose published in the Sept. 21 Star Tribune ("Don't judge banned books by their covers"). The book and circumstances in question are unidentified. [Opinion editor's note: The online version of the commentary provides a link to more information about the books in question.] The commentary makes accusations against anonymous, unnumbered books in school libraries. His case in point is from a politician whose motives may be more complex than acknowledged. The description of the book expresses one person's opinion.
A few things I would say in responding to Ambrose's concerns:
School librarians are human beings, professionals and, often, parents. In many school libraries they also have teacher training. They aim to include books that will appeal to the age groups of the children they serve and the curriculum for those students.
There is a selection policy for the library, and reviews are used to decide which books suit the library and community. Given finite budgets, the selection process is rigorous. School librarians even in a single school may not all agree on a given item, but typically librarians will have internal discussions about selections and whether they meet the collection guidelines.
There is a process in libraries for addressing an official challenge to a book. That process involves other school staff, school leadership and school boards (publicly elected).
Any parent should look at books their children bring home from any library, including from school, and make decisions about its suitability for their child.
Suggesting that school librarians need to be reminded that children are different from adults is sensationalizing and offensive. If you question a book that your child has chosen or been given, do not hesitate to have a conversation with the librarian and ask about the book's merits, why the book was selected and for whom it is intended.
Laura Haule, Minneapolis
The writer is a retired librarian.
This is not acceptable
I am responding to the commentary in the Sept. 20 paper from Sheletta Brundidge on hate speech ("Many of us Black professionals know how Mattison feels," Opinion Exchange). And I will keep this simple. Most of us have heard of the Golden Rule, an important concept in most religions. The rule goes something like this: "Do unto others what you would have done unto you." Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Do you want hate speech, death threats or other nasty words sent to you? If not, then do not say or send those words to anyone else. Brundidge is correct. We all need to speak up and let everyone know that hate speech is never acceptable. Period.
Sylvia Moore, Bloomington
'Tourism' language is cruel
Healthy people do not make fun of people with cancer. It's just rude. Young people should not mock people for being old. It shows crass stupidity. If someone has suffered life-changing tragedy, bullying them for grieving is cruel. Why, then, would a supposedly well-educated, seemingly mature person make up a phrase belittling and trivializing someone's pain and emotional trauma?
No one is happy to be in a position to choose to have an abortion. No one exclaims, "I'm so happy I have to travel to another state to save my life." Spending critical money and time away from one's job, family and friends to have an abortion isn't fun. It's additional financial and social injury on top of emotional and medical trauma.
No matter your politics, religion or gender, if you would not make fun of a person who needs medical attention, a person who is old or a person who is grieving, you should not use the phrase "abortion tourism." It is crass, stupid and bullying cruelty. It should not be said by anybody. It should especially not be said by a man who travels on private jets, lives in a state-funded governor's mansion in Florida and says it only as a sound bite to suck up more power for himself.
Gary L. Brisbin, Minneapolis
HEALTH CARE WORKERS
Don't gloss over staff suffering
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey declared Sept. 14 "Abbott Northwestern Hospital Day" as hospital management broke ground on a new building that same day.
What the public doesn't know is that Abbott Northwestern is spending thousands of dollars on outside consultants to compare our staffing levels to those in other states and municipalities and implement a plan to gut nurse staffing levels. The current proposals increase workload and patient care assignments by 20% or more. There is a large amount of research that shows cutting hospital nurse staffing increases patient complications, morbidity and mortality, and even more research that shows already unsafe staffing levels are the predominant factor in why nurses are leaving or not coming back to hospitals.
Frey's declaration is profoundly out of touch and appears to be a coverup for what is happening inside the walls of the largest hospital in the Twin Cities. Our patients — the residents of Minneapolis and its surrounding communities — deserve high-quality, safe patient care provided by experienced nurses. Minnesota's reputation as a leader in health care is once again being threatened by highly paid corporate bullies who are prioritizing their own pocketbooks over patient care and driving nurses away. Without nurses, who will care for you?
Rebekah Nelson, Bloomington
The writer is a registered nurse, Abbott Northwestern Hospital employee and chair of the Commission on Governmental Affairs at the Minnesota Nurses Association. Her views are her own.
In response to Wednesday's article about M Health Fairview, "Healing more hearts," I'd like to share that Southdale hospital, in addition to having cutting-edge heart care, has a tremendous amount of "heart" in the loving, care its staff provides to its patients. I'm not sure how you write a love letter to an entire hospital, but I'm going to try because to name every caring, loving individual who touched our lives over the last two months would be impossible. My father, Bill Lord, was in and out of the hospital five times over the summer months with various reactions to his chemotherapy treatments, including heart issues. The last time he was released to rehab, we thought he had turned the corner and wouldn't be back, but within a few short days he returned. This time for good.
We all know health care workers are special people, but to experience it repeatedly firsthand is a different thing all together. These amazing individuals from all over the world cared for my dad like their own family member. When we returned for the last time, many made a point to stop into his room to see him and us. The hugs and tears brought us such comfort when we needed it most. Their shifts are long and difficult; the staffing gets stretched thin. I'm not sure how they find the internal fortitude to do what they do day after day. What I do know is that they are true heroes, and we can't recognize them enough.
Kimberly Lord Arndt, Chicago