Oklahoma Book Segregation Update: Newspaper, Library Commission speak out

In an update to the story I posted earlier today, the Tulsa City-County Library has added a page of links about the legislation to its website. It includes links to the current text of the bill and the relevant statutes, but also has TCCL's official position statement. The library commission's chairman has this to say:

The public library distributes books and other media which are broadly representative of human thought. In a diverse, pluralistic democracy not everyone will believe or like what they read. Library materials are representative of all social, political, religious and cultural points of views. Homosexuality is a reality. What would prevent other topics of reality from becoming off limits to young people who are free citizens entitled to free exercise of speech and thought?

Oklahoma libraries also gained an ally in one of the state's major newspapers. The Daily Oklahoman published an editorial on Friday condemning the legislation.

We find it ironic that the bill said each policy should "reflect the contemporary community standard of the community the library is located in." In putting the bill on a path to becoming law, lawmakers are taking away such local control and substituting it with their judgment. It's not the Legislature's job to tell libraries which books to stock and where to put them. Local library boards are capable of making decisions on whether restricted access is necessary.

OK House set to Further Restrict Kids' Access to Materials

As noted in an earlier LISNews story, the Oklahoma State Legislature is working on a bill to segregate library materials in all state libraries. As widely reported, the relevant text is as follows:

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries Board shall not grant or distribute any state funds that are allocated to libraries on a formula basis to any library, library district, or library system unless the library has taken action to place all children and young adult books and materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit heterosexual subject matter in an adult or special area in the library and the library has a policy in place to limit distribution of such books and material to adults only.

A version of the House bill, called a "Committee Substitute" has passed the state House Appropriations and Budget Committee. This bill is even broader than the previous version, expanding the blocked funding sources beyond ODL to include municipalities and individual library boards. It also includes requirements for annual reporting. There's no good way to link to the text of the Committee Substitute, so I've included the full text below the cut.
One of the first objections to the original bill was that it didn't define "sexually explicit subject matter". The new text blocks that objection by basing the definition on existing law, specifically Section 1024.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. That reads, in part:

3. "Sexual conduct" means and includes any of the following:

a. acts of sexual intercourse including any intercourse which is normal or perverted, actual or simulated,

b. acts of deviate sexual conduct, including oral and anal sodomy,

c. acts of masturbation,

Take just a moment and imagine the monumental task of deciding which materials in even a small library collection match that definition. Then imagine that you have to build a physical structure in your small rural library to bar access to these items for your young patrons. Whatever your views on homosexuality or children's rights to read, this bill creates a logistical nightmare and a terrible monetary burden on every library in the state of Oklahoma.

Picture Book on Adoption Booted from Kids Section

A children's book based on a true story about a pair of male penguins adopting an egg has been removed from the library over parental concerns about homosexuality. The illustrated book, "And Tango Makes Three," is based on a story of penguins Roy and Silo, who adopted an abandoned egg at New York City's Central Park Zoo in the late 1990s.

The book, written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, was moved from the children's section at two Rolling Hills' Consolidated Library's branches in Savannah and St. Joseph in northwest Missouri. Two parents had expressed concerns about the book last month. Here's the report .

Barbara Read, the Rolling Hills'(MO) director, said experts report that adoptions aren't unusual in the penguin world. However, moving the book to the nonfiction section would decrease the chance that it would "blindside" readers, she said.

These tips might make your son a reader

A recent Miami Herald story lists 8 tips on jump-starting your reluctant male reader, but begins with possibly the best tip of all:

Parents of boys may have heard that raising an eager reader isn't easy. In spite of stereotypes that suggest boys are less likely than girls to be engaged readers, literacy experts suggest this doesn't have to be the case.
In fact, according to William G. Brozo, Ph.D., professor of literacy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., these stereotypes can interfere with the ability of boys to develop a lifelong love of reading. And he urges parents not to adopt what he describes a potentially "self-fulfilling prophecy."


A Teen's Love of Books Results in a Literary Quilt

Chelsea Gerhard, of Matthews NC, created an Authors' Quilt for her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Her presentation, titled "Write Me a Quilt," tells about the authors who contributed squares to her quilt as well as advice on contacting favorite authors.

Determined and persistent, Chelsea heard back from Laura Numeroff, Lemony Snickett, Beverly Cleary, Clive Barker and first lady Laura Bush. Chelsea says, "I've already received my Gold Award, but I want to take this quilt as far as I can. I hope to be a librarian, and I plan to continue doing programs with the quilt," Chelsea said. Story from the Charlotte Observer .


Canadian School Board cautious on controversial book

Canada's biggest school board is considering a report that would allow Grade 6 students free access in school to a controversial children's book on conflict in the Middle East.

But Grade 4 and 5 students at the Toronto District School Board would need a note certifying their parents are aware they're reading the book, Three Wishes, before they would be allowed to check it out of the library.

Marsalis Is Bringing Books Home to the Big Easy

Ellis L. Marsalis III, author, photographer and brother of Wynton and Branford, is organizing an effort to provide books to a library at the Lusher Charter School in New Orleans, LA. Now a resident of Baltimore, Marsalis plans on driving a truck full of books to New Orleans, leaving this weekend. He also plans to help bring a computerized circulation system, shelves and other material to rebuild the school's library.


Queens Library program aims to reduce fines, increase reading

This was reported on the NYLINE discussion list by JoAnne King of Queens Library:

Queens Library's "Read Away Your Fines" program helps young customers
restore borrowing privileges when their library accounts have been
frozen due to fines and fees. It's not amnesty; it's "Read Away Your

To learn more, go to

ABC News, where the story was covered this week.


Words of caution Parents, librarians often at odds over books for teens

The Kalamazoo Gazette has an article on the gritty topics explored in today's young-adult literature that have made those books more popular among teenagers and more controversial for parents. Some librarians say they pick teen books based on reviews and the awards the books have won, without worrying about parental objections -- a stance endorsed by the American Library Association.

Still, librarians try to address parental concerns in other ways.

How to Challenge a Book

Anonymous Patron writes "How to challenge a book: The Richmond (VA)Times Dispatch has a suprisingly long look at Henrico County schools policies on books. The Richmond, Hanover County and Chesterfield County school systems offer parents procedures to challenge books and other reading material. In most cases, school officials say, the challenges are handled at the school level before progressing to a school-system committee.Before challenging a work, they say, parents should read it entirely and try not to impose their own views on what children read. "The greatest gift they could give their child is to give them to the freedom to think," she said, "and the only way they can do that is to give them the freedom to read.""



Subscribe to Children