Free Speech Groups Criticize Dismissal of WI Library Board Members

Four members of a library board in West Bend, WI were dismissed last week for refusing to remove controversial books from the library’s young adult section—and yesterday, the ABFFE, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of American Publishers and PEN American Center criticized the firings.

The groups sent a letter to the West Bend Common Council stating that the dismissals threatened free speech in two ways: punishing the board members for attempting to apply objective criteria in the selection of books, and pressuring the library to remove the controversial books. The letter said, “The role of a public library and its board members is to serve the entire community and to evaluate books and other library materials on the basis of objective criteria. By removing half the members of the library board, the Common Council is imposing its opinions on the rest of the community.”

The controversy began in February when two patrons complained that the library’s YA section included fiction and nonfiction books about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. Publishers Weekly has the story.

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