Community Standards

As librarians, in a public library, we are frequently expected to be conscious of community standards. There is an expectation that our collections will compliment and support our communities, and will not excessively offend (some would say not offend at all) the sensibilities of the community. That is easier said than done. The issue revolving around the Vagina Monologues in a New Jersey town is a good example of how difficult it can be in assessing Community Standards:

"WEST MILFORD - The rumor mill has been churning in recent weeks as volunteers prepare for a benefit performance of "The Vagina Monologues."

Mayor Joseph DiDonato on Thursday ordered an investigation into whether a township community center had asked the play to stop rehearsing there, after residents expressed concerns over possible censorship during a council meeting.

At issue: The play's frank language might be overheard by children who use the complex for sports and other after-school activities.

"We have no policy of censorship," DiDonato said at the meeting. "This is the first I'm hearing of it. ... Nobody has the authority to set that kind of policy."

The rumors aren't true, according to interviews Friday with the parties involved. But the play has attracted some criticism, organizers said.

The West Milford Players, who are helping guide the production, have received anonymous telephone calls lambasting them for "bringing filth into a family-oriented town," said group leader John Richards."

I think Stephen Abram, in a Library Journal article has, at the very least,made a good start at identifying what we mean by community, and how hard of a term it can be to come to grasps with, by identifying at least five different types of community:

Community Exploded (Library Journal 1/15/2005)


The LJ article deals with different types of patrons but community standards, at least in terms of whats been debated for the past couple weeks, is going to be broken down by age groups.

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