Committee formed in response to Maddow podcast votes to keep name of Desmond-Fish Public Library

Eighteen board members from the Desmond-Fish Public Library voted to keep the name of library at a special meeting that was held in Garrison on Saturday.

Jade Nash

Mar 9, 2024, 10:19 PM

Updated 76 days ago

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Eighteen board members from the Desmond-Fish Public Library voted to keep the name of library at a special meeting that was held in Garrison on Saturday.
The vote comes after a year-long review of its founder, the late Hamilton Fish III. Some people raised questions about his actions before World War II and alerted library officials about a 2022 Ultra podcast hosted by MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.
In the podcast, Maddow dug up allegations that Fish III, a congressman from 1920 to 1945, allowed Nazi propaganda to be sent from his office around America and also made statements that indicated his support for Nazis.
Saturday's vote to keep the library's name was met with mixed reactions.
"It was the correct decision and I'm very proud of this board of directors," one patron said.
"I don't think this is going to age well. Jews in this community are going to have a visceral reaction to the name being kept on the library," another patron said.
Prior to Saturday's vote, a 10-member working group released a report for the board to review.
At the time, seven members supported a name change and three members did not.
In the report, a member in favor of keeping the library's name said the library should focus "on expressing its values through actions" rather than through the name.
While another in favor of changing the library's name said a name change "does not erase history," rather it acknowledges it.
In the report, several respondents also shared suggestions for reparative actions, like removing Fish III's portrait or expanding the library's collection about marginalized groups.
Now that the vote has been made to keep the name, library officials said a group will now work to determine how they can implement some of these recommendations.


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