Libraries and privacy


It's tough being under age 18. There's no privacy.

That's just the way it is--and should be if it isn't--when raising a child. Parents should know what their child is doing, who their child is hanging out with, what their child is reading. It's that last one, though, that has drawn a bit of attention lately in the Legislature. Read the full story reported by news-miner.


Yes, people should know what their children are doing and who they are doing it with. And they should know what their children are reading. If your political leanings torque that way, so you can rip it out of their hands and ground them for life for daring to read that obscene and pornographic trash by Judy Blume, or threatening their souls with hellfire by reading Madeleine L'Engle. On the other paw, I always read what my daughter was reading only because it gave us a common frame of reference and to answer any questions she might come up with. I never forbade her to read anything or required that she get my permission. Her lowest grade in the second term of secondary three, the one just past, was an 84.

The only thing I would probably have forbidden her to get was the Eminem Show CD. And not because of the "bad" language on it. Because it's lousy art.

I gotta confess I never quite understood this angle of the library profession to begin with. In reality, a parent can find out what their kid is reading, policies notwithstanding.

But when I'm the one footing the bill for the materials if they're overdue, lost, damaged and whatever; I think I have not only a parental right to know what's out, but a legal right too. Many librarians tend to equate library cards with credit cards. Would you want your child to have a credit card and the ability to charge anything to it with no way of you being able to find out what, until the bill comes due?

I just became a first time dad 20 days ago. I'm a pretty liberal guy and there's damned little in the way of books that I'll deny my son. If he's anything like me, he'll be an advanced reader. My grade school librarian was appalled that I prefered Hercule Poirot to Dr. Seuss. The reason I was so advanced is that my parents allowed me to read damn near anything I wanted. The only thing they kept back was a book of erotica. Looking back, I can dig why they felt a 10 year old wasn't ready for that.

Still, when my kid goes to the library, I want to know what he's checked out. If for no other reason so I know it all goes back on time.

What's wrong with Madeleine L'Engle? She's a sold Episocopalian firmly grounded in her faith. I can't imagine that anyone's soul would be threatened with hellfire for reading her books.

That is your parenting style and kudos to you; however, other parents feel differently and they should have control over what their kids read. This is especially true when those parents happen to be taxpayers who help pay for those libraries.

Parents decide for their own children what's right or wrong with an author. Children of pagan or atheistic parents will make very different decisions than I would on their children's behalf, and that's their prerogative. It's also parents' prerogative to neglect their children's reading altogether, and, sadly, many do, irrespective of their religion, politics & epistemology.

As for L'Engle, I don't know enough about her beliefs to make a judgement for my own part. As a general point, though, the fact that a person is firmly grounded in her faith is not by itself much of a criterion. The actual content of their beliefs is far more relevant. Both John Ashcroft and John Spong are "firmly grounded in their faith", yet who could assert that their faiths, both called "Christian", are commensurate?

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