Library employees fired over censorship of graphic novel

Library employees fired over censorship of graphic novel: It has become a question of what public libraries are enshrined to do, what role they are to play in monitoring children and whether they get to decide what people get to read.

What complicates this is that the graphic novel in question meets no standard of obscenity by the law.


Seeing as how she does not intend to return the book?

The article is excellent. It discloses how the library board refused to allow freedom of speech because freedom of speech was not on the agenda. It also disclosed that the library director believes that children have a First Amendment right to inappropriate material.

But, read it and see what you think. If you want more about my thoughts on this (as if!), go here.

Obscenity is not the issue. If so, toss aside all selection policies as they no longer are relevant.

And let me add that when I go to public meetings, the public is allowed to say anything just before the end of the meeting--I've never seen the "talk to the hand-it's not on the agenda" excuse before. That free speech advocates would use that excuse to stifle the speech of dozens is particularly ironic, no? Was firing those people overnight, according to the article, on the overnight agenda?


Dan, I don't believe it is your place, or the government's place, to parent someone else's child. What gives you that right?

Second, can you describe for us, in detail, the objectionable material and why you feel it's obscene?

1) I am not parenting someone else's child. I speak on an issue, and they get to decide for themselves. So, I agree with you, I have no right to parent someone else's child, except in certain circumstances that make such parenting legal, such as an adoption agreement.

2) The issue is not obscenity. Even if it were, my opinion of anything is irrelevant to anyone other than myself. A community needs to act for itself, not for me and not for the ALA. To the extent I provide that community with a alternative point of view for it to consider, that can only help. For example, informed consent is only valid if it is informed, not misinformed. So a multitude of opinions is valuable--unless, of course, you (not you, Chuck) are the one person, group, or national organization trying to get people to think a certain, single way.


sometimes I take your opinion as too conservative, but this is the clearest statement you've ever made (that I recall reading) about what you believe. when we discuss the issues is when we do the most good.

regarding The Black Dossier, I think the library failed when it placed it in the YA section. as I said before, Booklist rated it YA/M "for mature teens"-- so to be safe, the library should have moved it with the graphic novels in the adult section.

that said, NO ONE should ever take it on themselves to remove a hold from a patron's account. you also shouldn't be using your library powers to look up patron accounts unless the patron does something that directs you to do it--checking on fines, updating addresses, etc. you don't just say, "she looks too young to read this book" or "hey, she's a cutie, what's her email?."

whether that deserves the punishment these women got is up to the library, although that single act by itself shouldn't warrant termination, IMO.

I'll bet most agree with "that single act by itself shouldn't warrant termination, IMO." That's my opinion too.

Be that as it may, my blog post was about the library's responses to the actions, not the actions themselves.

Those responses included possible illegal activity; apparent, ironic denial of free speech, and exposure to the community that the library director apparently believes children have a First Amendment right to inappropriate material, which view appears based on the ALA's Library Bill of Rights being adopted by the local library.


She crossed the line when she canceled the patrons hold on the item. That, in and of itself, will get you fire at most public libraries. I've seen several parents find their children reading something they don't approve of and throw the item away and come in to the library and pay for the item. One even begged the librarian to make sure it wasn't reordered after paying for the item. The woman in thew article should have talked to the head of the library about moving the item to the adult section, anything more than that is whole unprofessional. It's like pharmisist who refuse to fill birth-control pacriptions.

So they took the book off hold so neither the child NOR the child's parents could check it out. That is the issue. By not even informing the parents or allowing them to see the GN and make an informed decision, these women were violating the parents' rights. The parents may very well have told their child it was inappropriate for her. They weren't given the chance.

Our public library has a section for GNs that are chosen specifically for younger readers. It is in the children's section. There are other GNs in the Young Adult section and still more in the main library. None of these sections is closed to any reader, but the placement may act as a guide to those unfamiliar with the format. As a librarian, it is my job to fill the information needs of my patrons, not decide what those needs should be.


Does this mean you don't know exactly what the objectionable material is, or you don't want to tell me?


I think you are working too hard to pin me down. I do not know why, but it is a persistent theme of yours. Nobody in tarnation cares what I think. You don't either, but you keep asking over, and over, and over again.

When I address a community, I provide that community with information and reliable sources for that information so that members of the community can make up their own minds on various issues I raise.

For example, certain national organizations persistently mislead local communities to believe, for example, that the First Amendment protects children from adults who try to protect them from inappropriate material. One way they mislead these communities is by not presenting the whole truth to that community. I and others try to provide the missing parts.

For example, what is often missing from the message that keeping inappropriate material from children violates the First Amendment is something the US Supreme Court said. I think the community may want to know what the US Supreme Court said on the topic. I think there is nothing wrong with bringing this information to the attention of the community. I note these national organizations leave this information out of their message. I think the community would what to know that the US Supreme Court said, directly to the ALA, in US v. ALA, in 2003, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

Legitimate, and even compelling. The US Supreme Court said that. In 2003.

On the other hand, the ALA's Library Bill of Rights says protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is "age" discrimination.

Then that ALA policy get's adopted in local communities. Like in Nicholasville, KY. Result? The library director in Nicholasville, KY, said, "As customers of a public library there is a First Amendment expectation to respect the rights of all persons — what one person might view as questionable might be quite important and relevant to another." All persons. And the case is about an 11 year old, so he means children too. He means children have a First Amendment expectation to be able to access any material, no matter how inappropriate. He means the interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, but not in Nicholasville, KY, and the residents should be proud they have some a strong defender of First Amendment rights for children.

So you have the US Supreme Court saying one thing, and the ALA saying the opposite. You have the local library expressly adopting the ALA's view. You have the local library director expressly stating the ALA view, essentially. Nowhere are the people being advised about the US Supreme Court's view. They are not being told the whole truth.

That's where I come in and others like me.

We provide the US Supreme Court's view, the view that the ALA does not reveal, hence not the whole truth, and that totally destroys the ALA's view, and the local library's view if it adopts the ALA's view. We bring the missing message to the people for them to be fully informed so they can make up their own minds instead of having it be made up for them by the ALA or ALA acolytes.

That is likely why people work so hard to destroy our credibility--they simply do not want people to be fully informed--that way the people will do what the propagandists want, and think they are doing it for good reasons, like ensuring children retain First Amendment rights to inappropriate material. It's not true, but they think it's true, and they choose to leave their children exposed to inappropriate material it is perfectly legal to keep from children. That's how propaganda works. It's called conversion. When you get the people to think the way you think, they do what you want without your having to do anything further. That is the reason why in community after community nationwide, you never hear the national organizations presenting the whole truth, such as by revealing what the US Supreme Court said. No, that gets left out.

And to the extent that anyone attempts to add that view into the mix, they are attacked personally. Me, for example. My blog posts are filled with personal attack after personal attack, almost never addressing the issues raised. You, Chuck, are one of the few people who comments exclusively on me personally and almost never on the issues. I have just decided to cut out comments that are of a personal attack nature--one guy recently saying I was making up quotes. People come to my blogs and expect issues and discussions thereon, not long reams of drivel about me personally and what I think personally about each and every minute aspect of each and every issue. Punctuation, for example. One guy was after me for my punctuation! I've decided to remove such drivel so that talk on the issues remains without the long, boring distractions. I am certain it will improve my blog. Indeed, many blogs remove personal attacks. I'm just the latest to join the crowd.

So, Chuck, you can just give up asking me for my personal opinion on anything. It really doesn't matter except as to how it can be used to screen out my message. That's right, free speech advocates screening out the free speech of those they oppose.

Sounds like the library board of Nicholasville, KY, doesn't it?


You have no idea what's in the graphic novel that makes it offensive, do you? You just see someone with some beef with the library (that has nothing to do with you or the ALA) and you go stick your nose where it doesn't belong without knowing if you're objecting to a money shot or a Renoir nude.

So you, literally, have NO IDEA what you're talking about. As in you have NO IDEA about the objectionable material. But you do know that libraries will not pull or move books because 1, 2 or 5 people (out of thousands) complain. And that bugs you. Because you're right, dammit.

Dan, have you ever noticed that all you do is whine? You whine to a blog of librarians about how they should throw out books that a softball team's worth of people don't like. You whine when people point out you don't know anything about anything. You whine when you lose a court case. You whine when people make fun of you. You whine on a blog for people you insult and you whine on your blog which is only read by people who agree with you and people waiting for their turn to kick you in the ankles.

Why don't you lobby a state legislature? Or a library board? Or run for one? Or run for city council or mayor? Why don't you start a letter writing campaign? Or a protest?

Why don't you DO SOMETHING other than whine on the Internet?

Unless, like a toddler standing in a crib shrieking, you just like the attention.

That was the most long-winded speech full of nothing I have ever seen.

You talk of taking information to the community, so they can decide, and not some national organization that shall remain nameless. But, what these two library paraprofessionals did was taking the decision away from the community. They withheld this book not only from the minor patron, but also her parents. The child's parents HAVE a right to decide what's best for their child, not the library employees. And on a wider scale, these two former employees have also made the decision for the entire community because they have kept it checked out and won't return it. Two individuals are making a decision you claim should be made by the community. How do you support that? Explain it without conspiracy theories please.

Easy, I'm talking generally, not this specific case.

Therefore, you can avoid answering questions about the PARENTS' right to decide for THEIR OWN child.

The crux or what libraries and librarians do is decide what people can read. Libraries refer to it as collection development. Unfortunately, some overzealous librarians try to impose their own value system on readers and thus censorship comes into play.

As I librarian I would love to know if you've figured out how to force someone to read something they don't want to. It would be a quantum leap forward for education in general. Or are you mad because your kids want to see stuff you don't want them to see and to parent them would take away from the hours you spend in the basement making "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" placards?

Or are you of the opinion that "censorship" means the same thing as "deciding what books to buy based on what your patrons like and the fact that you can't fit every book every printed in your building?" If so, I can recommend a number of dictionaries, all of which are reasonably priced and use relatively small words.

Collection development is in place because libraries do not have all the money or physical space to buy and house all the books ever published. It is NOT to decide what people can read. If a library does not have a particular book, there are other means of getting that book. If a library does not have a particular book you want, you can request that the library purchase it or you can use inter-library loan and get it from another library. There are also e-books. You can also use library internet access to locate copies of the book for purchase through Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and numerous other booksellers. Yes, book reviews are used and there is a selection policy in place so books are not bought arbitrarily and there is consistency. But it is not taking choices away from the patrons.

We buy popular writers, local interests, and such without patron input. But we also rely heavily on patron input, like circulation statistics on certain authors, patron-submitted purchase request forms, and actually talking with our patrons.

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