Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Does the Public Library Have the Right?

Today I came across a story about a book challenge in a public library in Kentucky. The scary part? It was a library staffer challenging the book. The situation is this: A library staffer in a county public library in Kentucky came across the graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume IV: The Black Dossier in children's/YA section of the library. She felt that it had way too many sexual situations and was not suitable for children, so she took it to her director who disagreed and put the book back into circulation. Her next step to stop children from checking out the book was to check it out herself, and keep renewing it. This was working fine for almost a year until she went to renew it on September day and discovered that an 11 year old girl had requested the book. The library employee was so distressed that a child would want to read what she considered inappropriate material that she asked a colleague to override the hold (can we say invasion of privacy?!?!). The director found out about this and both women were fired from the library. You can read more about the story here.

I obviously find a number of things were distressing about this story. But the worst thing (to me) is that this woman took it upon herself to decide what is appropriate or inappropriate for children. Who gave her this right? No one, that's who. It is not up to the library, or the school, or the teacher, or the general public to decide what is or what is not okay for your child to read. The only person who can make that decision is the parent of the child in question. Another thing: the book in question had been purchased for the library, which means that it was reviewed and someone made a decision to buy it knowing that it was going in the children's/YA section. It also survived the first removal attempt by the library worker when the director had it put back on the shelf. If there had been a real concern, the book would have not survived this process.

Do you think this library worker crossed the line? She and another colleague were fired for accesses records and removing a hold request on the book. Do you agree with the library board that firing these women was the right thing to do? I do, but I want to hear your opinion!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I think it was the right thing to do to fire them. They don't have the right to force their values on the public. It's also kind of funny she targeted that one random book when the shelves are probably filled with material she would consider "inappropriate."