Friday, December 26, 2008

Obama Must Act Since the ALA Refuses to Assist Jailed Cuban Librarians, Says Nat Hentoff

President-elect Barack Obama must assist jailed Cuban librarians since the American Library Association [ALA] refuses to do so. So says Nat Hentoff in "The Castros Still Rule By Fear," by Nat Hentoff, Zanesville Times Recorder, 26 December 2008. This sad need to call on the president-elect to scold the ALA to follow its own policies was brought to the attention of the ALA via email to the "intellectual freedom forum" by Robert Kent from Friends of Cuban Libraries. It will fall on deaf ears, again. Perhaps Mr. Obama should assist precisely because the ALA will not.

"Obama should consider urging the American Library Association to at last be faithful to its own principles be [sic] strongly recommending to Raul Castro that he also include the immediate release of the independent librarians.

Until now, the ALA has refused to do that....

Mr. president-elect, please help these prisoners of conscience where so many, including the ALA, have failed to do so."

Isn't it sad that the ALA repeatedly refuses to come to the assistance of the jailed Cuban librarians? Isn't sad Nat Hentoff has to write opinion articles calling on the president-elect to urge the ALA to follow its own rules? For more background on his current opinion, see his original article on this theme: "Castro: Rule By Fear," by Nat Hentoff, NewsAndOpinion.com, 16 May 2005.

Why does the ALA remain so authoritative when such an obvious double standard exists: it "refuses" to be "faithful to its own principles," while it demands local communities acquiesce to its law-defying, anything-goes policies that expose children to harm? For example, let a community try to remove a book containing bestiality from a public school and the ALA immediately injects itself calling the community racist because the book's author is black.

I hope Mr. Obama does take action as Mr. Hentoff suggests. That may set a standard for communities nationwide to similarly sidestep the ALA's double standards, thereby "protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors" and from predators drawn to the Internet computers.

Yes they can.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The ALA Knows It Is Liberal and Losing Members Who Are "Disgusted With the National Organization"; Refugees Reach Out to SafeLibraries

The American Library Association [ALA] knows it is liberal and losing members who are "disgusted with the national organization." Refugees are reaching out to SafeLibraries, as you will soon see.

Recent talk among members of the ALA Council has produced truly amazing, biting statements (emphasis added):
The words "disgusted with the national organization" and "supporting liberal views and the political left" were the theme of his concerns. .... I wish I could say this is the only member I have heard from who is dropping or who hasn't renewed for this same reason. I guess what I'm trying to say is I grow weary of hearing this from colleagues over and over. They do not want to say anything publicly because they just do not have the energy for the bullying that they have received in the past. For an organization that shouts "tolerance" we sure seem intolerant of those who disagree. It is especially true in the present political climate when if a librarian or ALA member publicly voices concern over issues, they are called "racists" or "homophobic." I know, I've been called the same thing from some of you.

Source: "[alacoun] Another Member Drops," Susan Pieper, American Library Association, 12 November 2008.

This does not surprise me. I am often contacted by librarians and library directors who apparently feel the need to reach out to me to say what they feel. Why just last week I received the following letter:
Thank you for your letter in the October 15 issue of Library Journal. The double standards of the library community, particularly in the political sphere, in this country are why I no longer belong to ALA. Your letter was refreshing—as is your Web page (SafeLibraries.org), which I hadn't visited before today.
Source: Elided to protect another victim of ALA "bullying" and "intolerance."

No, I won't be revealing from whom this letter originated, for obvious reasons. Actually, I encourage ALA refugees to reach out to me in this fashion. Letters like this are getting common. And I offer assistance according to the needs of the individual.

Now didn't that letter I received just last week sound exactly like what the ALA Council is discussing now? Aren't these admissions against interest by the ALA leadership remarkable?

Liberal bullying and intolerance is apparently a feature of ALA membership. Like ALA Councilor Susan Pieper, I too have experienced it myself.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Sex: Are Books Like TV? ALA Says Books Help A Child Learn From a Safe Distance While Studies Show Similar TV Lessons Lead To Double Teen Pregnancies

A new study shows "a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies." See "Teens Who Watch Sex in the City More Likely to Get Pregnant," by Rosemary Bennett, Times Online, 3 November 2008. This comports with "The Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls," by Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, et alia, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, 2007. (See "What Parents Can Do.")

The American Library Association [ALA] says this is not true. The ALA says sexual content such as oral sex in books is "a way for kids to experience something at a safe distance -- and a way for them to make up their minds about how they would respond in that kind of situation. .... Unless you read stuff that's perhaps not the most literary, you'll never understand what good works are.... Nobody complains about the adult women who read Harlequin romances." See "Racy Reading; Gossip Girl Series is Latest Installment in Provocative Teen Fiction, and It's As Popular As It Is Controversial," by Linda Shrieves, The Orlando Sentinel, 6 August 2005.

Similar to the ALA, some authors say nearly the same things. Author Lauren Myracle, for example, says, "As a Texas librarian said to me just today (when I was in the lovely state of Texas): 'The girls who read your books? They're the girls who *don't* make the mistakes that Zoe, Maddie, and Angela make. The girls who aren't reading the books are the ones you need to worry about.' To which I say: Amen." See "Is TTYL On Your School Library Book Shelves?," by Vicki Courtney, Virtue Alert, 29 October 2008, comment #24.

I have given you both sides. Even though books and TV are different media, they are similar in significant ways. Now you be the judge of what's best for your children:



Times Online
November 3, 2008
Republished under US Copyright Fair Use

Teens Who Watch Sex in the City More Likely to Get Pregnant

Rosemary Bennett, Social Affairs Correspondent

Teenagers who watch Sex in the City, Friends and other TV shows featuring sex scenes and discussions of sex are far more likely to get pregnant or get someone else pregnant than their peers, a new study has found.

The study, which tracked more than 700 sexually active teenagers aged between 12 and 17 for three years, discovered that those who viewed the most sexual content were almost twice as likely to get pregnant or get their girlfriend pregnant as those who saw the least explicit TV.

The study was lead by Anita Chandra, a behavioural scientist at RAND, an independent research organisation. It is published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr Chandra said that sexual content on TV had doubled in recent years, coinciding with teenage pregnancy rates edging up after decades of decline.

“We were surprised to find this link. But teens spend a good amount of their time watching television — an average of three hours a day — and we don’t know a lot about its impact on their health decisions,” she said.

“Watching this kind of sexual content on television is a powerful factor in increasing the likelihood of a teen pregnancy. We found a strong association.”

Studies have found a link between watching television shows with sexual content and becoming sexually active earlier, and between sexually explicit music videos and an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases.

But this is the first research to show an association between TV watching and teenage pregnancy.

Dr Chandra and her colleagues surveyed more than 2,000 adolescents aged between 12 and 17 from 2001 to 2004 to gather information about a variety of behavioural and demographic factors, including television viewing habits. They then analysed the sexual content of 23 shows in the 2000-2001 season, and calculated how often the teenagers saw characters kissing, touching, having sex, and discussing past or future sexual activity.

The shows included Sex in the City and Friends, dramas, comedies, reality shows and animated programmes on broadcast and cable networks. Sitcoms had the highest sexual content.

Among the 718 youths who reported being sexually active during the study, the likelihood of getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant increased steadily with the amount of sexual content they watched, the researchers found.

About 25 per cent of those who watched the most were involved in a pregnancy, compared with about 12 per cent of those who watched the least. The researchers said that they took into account other factors such as being from a one-parent family, wanting to have a baby and engaging in other risky behaviours.

“We don’t think that [TV] is necessarily more significant than some of the family and neighbourhood factors that can lead to teen pregnancies. But even when we removed all the other factors, we still saw a compelling link between a high exposure to sexual content on television and teen pregnancies,” Dr Chandra said.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Donate NOW to Protect Children in Public Libraries; Pima County, AZ, Swing Vote Up for Grabs

Dear SafeLibraries Readers,

I am asking you to donate NOW to a political candidate in Pima County, AZ, who, if elected, will become the swing vote that will require the public library to implement CIPA-compliant Internet filters. This one race will produce a majority on the issue of stopping the viewing of X-rated videos at the libraries.

As it stands now, the libraries have filters, but allow adults to decide for themselves whether or not to use them. That is not CIPA compliant, although the libraries claim it is. (I'm considering filing a complaint for CIPA compliance failures.) As a result, public libraries have "become places where men watch x-rated videos with our kids nearby." And the incumbent supports this.

You know my efforts are to educate people about what can be done in public libraries to protect children from harm caused by the policies of a national library association. Here is a case where we can actually get involved in helping someone to get elected to a position where he can do just that—the incumbent has not and will not. I'm asking you to please give a little right NOW as well. You can use credit cards, and the payment web site is safe and secure. I myself have donated $25. Please give more if you can.

I thank you very much, and I hope to bring you good news about this Pima County, AZ, election. Please consider sending this message to your friends.

A check may be sent to:

Brenner for Supervisor
1611 W Prince Rd
Tucson AZ 85705

Better yet, donate with a credit card using PayPal's highly secure interface:


Corporate checks are not allowed by law, and the limit to donate is $390.

Watch this ad, then donate NOW:



Related:

Political TV Ad Exposes Library Policy Supported by Opponent Who Allows X-Rated Video Viewing Near Children

This political TV advertisement exposes public library policy supported by an opponent who allows "x-rated video" viewing near children. For details, see "Supervisors' Library Porn Solution a Joke," by Barney Brenner, Tucson Citizen, 18 August 2006.



Transcript:

In these tough times I love that children are using our libraries more. But they've become places where men watch x-rated videos with our kids nearby. Sharon Bronson voted to let this continue. I want it to stop. What do you want?

On Screen Text:
  • Barney Brenner Supervisor District 3
  • Paid for by Brenner for Supervisor Committee. Dennis Melin, Treasurer.
Title:

Brenner For Supervisor
'Library'
:15
November 2008
Moret & Associates Adv.

Related:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Titillating Libraries - Women Use Library Webcams to Photograph Their Own Breasts

Folks, I'll let you read this one yourselves: "Porn! Get it @ Your Library!," by LibraryGoddess, 24 October 2008:

Porn! Get it @ Your Library!

It was a quiet Friday. The library was packed with facebookers, myspacers, and a couple of people reading the newspapers. The lab was packed with people using our computer to keep in touch with their loved ones. A little too in touch--I had to kick these chicks out for taking pictures of their tits using the library's web cams. Yep, it shocked the shit out of me, too. There I am, just minding my own business when, out of the corner of my eye I see these two women sharing a computer to take advantage of our cool webcams to enhance their online ads with some tit shots. Granted, to look at them, these are women who are obviously used to being topless in a room full of people. Also, to look at them, these are women who are well used to not getting dollars stuffed anywhere for the privilege either.

Since I couldn't recall anything like this being discussed in any of my library school management classes, I probably handled the situation incorrectly. I picked my jaw up off the floor and said (quite loudly) "what the hell is wrong with you?!" The women looked over huffily (yes, people can look huffy--even huffily) and pulled their shirts back up as if offended I caught their personal, naked moments IN THE MIDDLE OF THE COMPUTER LAB! I followed this with, "do you know you're exposing yourself in a library?!", "did you manage to get a nice picture of the READ poster hanging behind you?", "get the hell out right now!"

Of course, my inability to handle this calmly and properly totally backfired on me. About a half hour later we discovered that if anyone flushed a toilet anywhere in the building, it all backed up into every sink and toilet in the building. So we had to close and call the plumber--and what did they find when they snaked the drains? Some skank's Victoria's Secret thong stuffed into the toilet--payback for their inability to get a boob shot for their websites. The sign went up today: "No shoes; No shirts; No webcam action, chickas."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Election Robocall Targets Library Porn; Politicians Should Be Aware Library Filtering Issues May Become Political Election Issues

A political robocall is urging voters not to vote for a candidate who supposedly will not use Internets filters appropriately to protect children in public libraries. See "Ad Watch: Robocall Warns About Porn in Pima County Libraries," by Erica Meltzer, The Arizona Daily Star, 24 October 2008 (and "Brenner Robocall Attacks Bronson Over Library Porn; She Joined Vote to Follow Panel's Recommendation," by Erica Meltzer, The Arizona Daily Star, 25 October 2008, and associated comments). The issue is such a political football that it has become, again, an election issue, this time in Pima County, AZ.

Regarding the robocall, the statements are correct. For instance, privacy screens do not function as expected; selecting them over Internet filters is for CYA purposes only. Privacy screens do nothing, literally nothing, to protect children. So saying someone "voted to let it continue instead of siding with us and our kids" is accurate where someone recommended privacy screens.

The Arizona Daily Star's "fact checking" is mistaken a number of times. For example, the US Supreme Court did not say "adults can get access to any material that is not illegal" in public libraries. Libraries may legally exclude legal pornography, and likely most may do so under the very laws that created the libraries or by applying existing book collection policies and practices. The Court said filters may be used for this very purpose.

Also misleading is the implication that "reading a statement that displaying harmful material in the presence of minors is a crime" is an effective deterrent to criminal activity. Such "acceptable use policies" never deter criminals. It is just more CYA. In reality, filters may only be disabled under the applicable law "to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose." That does not include the provision of legal pornography, and if that is what one politician supports, pointing that out to the voters or saying someone is "out of touch with our families" is legitimate.

I would say this library policy is out of touch with what people might expect: "When adults ... attempt to access a questionable site (such as sites that are sexually or violently explicit) they will first see a screen advising them of state and federal cautions regarding viewing of questionable websites in public use areas. Adults then can choose to proceed or cancel their website choice." Actually, I would say that is a violation of the applicable law since the law requires librarians to disable filters, not patrons. If one politician allows this violation to continue and another will takes steps to stop this violation, citizens may wish to vote for the one who will follow the law, not flout it. Indeed, the county may lose federal funding even retroactively if this is not remedied.

Regarding the claimed First Amendment issues, they have already been asked and answered in the US Supreme Court. Reraising the same issues in a local jurisdiction is done only to convince people not to use filters. Someone who "voted, again with the majority, to adopt the recommendation," is not impressive where the recommendation is a compromise with those who refuse to follow the law and claim First Amendment rights already addressed by the US Supreme Court. Does anyone compromise with a child molester and only allow him to molest one child instead of ten? Does it make a difference if the "majority" accepts such a compromise?

The statements in the robocall about library issues are correct. The statements in the "ad watch" report about library issues are not entirely correct. Generally, politicians should be aware library filtering issues may become political election issues.


Ad Watch: Robocall Warns About Porn in Pima County Libraries
Pima County District 3 Board of Supervisors
By Erica Meltzer
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 10.24.2008
http://www.azstarnet.com/sn/hourlyupdate/263995.php

AD WATCH
The Star’s ongoing evaluation of the record vs. the rhetoric in campaign ads

The ad: an automated message for supervisor candidate Barney Brenner

The race: Pima County District 3 Board of Supervisors, where Brenner is trying to unseat three-term incumbent Sharon Bronson

The medium: robocall

The message: The call features Republican Supervisor Ray Carroll reading a message about Bronson.

“This is county Supervisor Ray Carroll with a call about protecting our kids. Our libraries have become places where adult men watch X-rated video pornography with our kids nearby. We need to put an end to this,” Carroll says.

“Supervisor Sharon Bronson voted to let it continue instead of siding with us and our kids. Bronson is out of touch with our families. Please vote for Barney Brenner, a man who will work to protect our kids.”

The intent: Make it appear that Bronson doesn’t want to protect children from pornography.

Fact check:

Adults using public library computers to access on-line pornography became an issue in spring 2006 when a television news crew used hidden cameras to tape men viewing pornography in public libraries.

At the time, library policy was that computers in children’s sections were filtered, but adults could choose whether to filter their Internet use.

Carroll pushed strongly for all Internet use to be filtered. The other supervisors said they were concerned about balancing First Amendment rights with protecting children.

The Child Internet Protection Act says libraries that accept discounted rates for their Internet access — as the Pima County Public Library does — must filter Internet access to block obscenity and child pornography.

The Supreme Court upheld the law, provided adults can get access to any material that is not illegal.

In July 2006, Bronson joined the two other Democratic supervisors in voting to install privacy screens around library computers so that passers-by would be less likely to see what another user had up on his screen and refer the issue to a committee.

That committee recommended all computer sessions start off with filtered Internet access. A user can choose to disable the filter after reading a statement that displaying harmful material in the presence of minors is a crime in Arizona.

In February 2007, Bronson voted, again with the majority, to adopt the recommendation.
Brenner agrees with Carroll’s position, that all Internet use in public libraries should be filtered.

Sources: Arizona Daily Star, minutes of Board of Supervisor meetings
Reprinted for educational purposes under Section 107 of the US Copyright Act

Related:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Safe Libraries and McGruff in Albuquerque, NM - A Model For the Nation

The Albuquerque Police Department has a "Safe Libraries" initiative that may include McGruff the Crime Dog. It is "aimed at keeping pedophiles from stalking children at the city's public libraries," according to this media report: "City Touts Safe Libraries," by KRQE News 13, 23 July 2008.




But the "Safe Libraries" initiative has a broader purpose, according to the program's creator with whom I spoke. The news report emphasizes the pedophile problem, but in reality the initiative is about all aspects of library patron and staff safety. Under the initiative, citizens are trained to observe and report potentially criminal behavior by registered sex offenders, transients, and others in public libraries—extra eyes and ears, so to speak.

The Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System libraries are run by the government, so pornographic or obscene material is prohibited, and the policy is enforced by CIPA-complaint Internet filters. Good thing because the libraries are visited by a relatively large number of transients due to the city's location along historic Route 66. Between the transients and the registered sex offenders, criminal activity occurs frequently enough that citizen volunteers are needed to observe and report possible criminality. Police then act accordingly. One of the many benefits is the freeing of library staff from having to confront such individuals.

This "Safe Libraries" initiative should become a model for communities nationwide. It is so new that it does not yet have a web site. As soon as I become aware of one, I will bring it to your attention, or maybe someone will post it in the comments section below.

The New Mexico Attorney General is very active in protecting children from Internet crimes, having its own "Internet Crimes Against Children" section. For example, see: "Federal Legislation on Internet Safety Signed Into Law...AG Says New Mexico Children to Benefit," by Gary K. King, NM Attorney General, 17 October 2008. The "Safe Libraries" program is welcome in such an environment. Will it be welcome in your state?

(Note: The "Safe Libraries" initiative is not related
to SafeLibraries.org, except we have similar goals.
See the SafeLibraries YouTube Channel for
the above video and more library crime videos.)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Australia Going to Mandatory Filtering

"Australia Going to Mandatory Filtering," by David Burt, FilteringFacts.org, 14 October 2008, reports the following:

Australia’s long, winding path of national filtering has finally taken the country to a two-tier structure of mandatory filtering by ISPs, ComputerWorld reports:

Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government’s pending Internet content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down blacklist, experts say. Under the government’s $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material. Internode network engineer Mark Newton said many users falsely believe the opt-out proviso will remove content filtering. ”Users can opt-out of the ‘additional material’ blacklist (referred to in a department press release, which is a list of things unsuitable for children, but there is no opt-out for ‘illegal content’”, Newton said. ”Illegal is illegal and if there is infrastructure in place to block it, then it will be required to be blocked - end of story.”

As I’ve pointed out earlier, “mandatory opt out filtering” is something that will likely increase in democratic regimes, as Japan has recently considered it as well. And the practices of blocking all child porn sites with no opt-out is already widespread in Europe, and most likely will eventually find its way to the United States. And that will lead to a very interesting battle at the US Supreme Court.

–David Burt

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dear Felice Picano, "The Joy of Gay Sex" Co-Author

Dear Felice Picano, co-author of "The Joy of Gay Sex":

Hi. I'm Dan Kleinman from SafeLibraries.org. Would you mind if I asked you some questions?

First, let me tell you that I am aware of various library controversies regarding one of your books, namely, "The Joy of Gay Sex." I have read the email you wrote to Paul Cohen of Helena, MT, dated 23 Sept 2008. I have written on this matter myself, including republishing your email in the comments (since it was already published), and I included my own back and forth with Paul Cohen, with his permission. You can see that all here: "Lewis and Clark's Gay Adventure; Helena, MT, and the Homosexuality Red Herring," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries.org, 21 Sept. 2008.

My questions for you are these, and all of these are seeking your opinion:
  1. What is your recommended minimum age for a reader of "The Joy of Gay Sex"?
  2. Would it be appropriate for a public library to restrict access to your book to those who fall below that minimum age?
  3. How best do you think access should be restricted?
  4. To your knowledge, how have various libraries restricted access to your book and for what reasons?
  5. Do you believe a community may decide for itself at what age a book is inappropriate for children in that community's public library?
  6. If not, who should make that decision and why?
  7. Do you believe a community may decide for itself the method of restricting access to material for those under a certain age?
  8. If not, who should make that decision and why?
  9. I personally feel the issue of homosexuality is irrelevant to the matter of what material may be inappropriate for children vis-a-vis public libraries. Do you feel similarly? Why or why not?
  10. The US Supreme Court said, "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," while the defendant and losing party in that case, United States v. American Library Association, said despite that, policy will remain unchanged, children must be about to access any and all material without any age restriction whatsoever. Do you believe "protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling"?
  11. If not, why not?
  12. Is there anything else you would like to add?

May I publish your responses? Perhaps co-author Dr. Silverstein would care to answer these questions as well?

I thank you very much for your time and attention.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Selection is Used to Censor: The ALA, Conservative Christians, and the Annoyed Librarian's Tour de Force

The Annoyed Librarian has written a tour de force on how the American Library Association [ALA] uses "selection" as the means to censor out political thought with which its leaders at the "Office for Intellectual Freedom" disagree. She exposes the ALA's "book banning" farce further in a really intelligent, interesting, and engaging fashion.

Might there be a twinge of religious intolerance from the ALA, but only in respect to "conservative Christians"? Might the ALA be providing political support for homosexualists? Might either violate the ALA's 501(c)(3) federal tax exemption? I am certain what the Annoyed Librarian has to say will be an eye opener for you.

Read this, word for word:

"Some 'Censorship' is Good," Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 8 October 2008:



Some "Censorship" is Good
October 8, 2008

Hmmm, there sure seem to be a lot of twopointopians and others terribly upset LJ is hosting the AL. I'm so "anonymous." Scary! It seems I'm also "negative," and we're all supposed to be "positive" and "constructive." Cry me a river, Pollyanna. Yay, team! Let's go, go, go! Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate! Libraries! L-I-B-R-A-R-I-E-S! Yay! What happened? Did they start passing out happy pills sometime after I finished library school? As you enter the brave new world of twopointopia, do they hand you the soma at the door? I'll stick with my martinis, which, thanks to the enormous amount of money LJ is paying me now, can be made with Bombay Sapphire instead of the old Bombay Dry. They've even been kind enough to set up a minibar in my corner office on the thirtieth floor so I can look out on the park while I sip them. They also provided a cute bartender named Chip (Hi, Chip!) to mix them up for me. La dolce vita!

Now down to business. Somehow I missed this story in the Washington Post a few days ago, but that's what I have readers for, to send me stuff like this. "Banned Books, Chapter 2" is quite a fun read.

"During a week that librarians nationwide are highlighting banned books, conservative Christian students and parents showcased their own collection outside a Fairfax County high school yesterday -- a collection they say was banned by the librarians themselves.... Titles include Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting and Someone I Love Is Gay, which argues that homosexuality is not 'a hopeless condition.'" We sure wouldn't want those kinds of books in a high school library! We want people to think homosexuality is a hopeless condition!

But banned by the librarians themselves? They obviously don't understand what a "banned" book is. Just for the "conservative Christian students and parents," I'll explain this whole process. First, the library has to buy the book. Then, some "conservative Christian" student or parent has to complain about the book. Thus, the book is "challenged." Though the books are never removed from the library, after 24 hours the "challenge" is automatically upgraded to "banned," because it sounds more provocative. That explains those announcements you're always hearing over the library loudspeakers: "In accordance with ALA regulations, the status of Frisky Gay Squirrels has now been upgraded to 'banned.' Any copies of Frisky Gay Squirrels left unattended will be randomly checked out to anyone who happens to be in the library." Librarians love this, because then they get to fight "censorship."

But what if the library never acquires the book in the first place? Then ipso facto it can't be "banned." That's the first thing you need to get through your conservative Christian heads. The question, then, is why wasn't the book acquired, or added to the collection if it was a gift? The conservative Christians think it was for political reasons, to deliberately make sure their side in a debate wasn't being represented in the library collection. Those conservative Christians can be sooo cynical sometimes. It had nothing to do with politics. If the selection decision had anything to do with politics, why then the ALA would say these librarians were "censors." The ALA hasn't called these librarians censors. Thus the books weren't rejected for political reasons. QED. Besides, we can't have the ALA coming out and accusing librarians for censorship just for keeping those mean old conservative books off the shelves. That's not censorship. That's just good sense!

Since it's obvious that politics had nothing to do with the decision not to add the books to the collection, what could have been the reason?

"Most of the books were turned down after school librarians said they did not meet school system standards." Ooh, that's a good one! It has such an official tone to it. "School system standards" sounds so impressive. I bet that school system has high standards indeed!

But that's not all. "Fairfax County's policy on library book selection says 'the collection should support the diverse interests, needs and viewpoints of the school community.'" Hmm? That sure sounds like they should add at least some of the books. I'd be willing to bet there's at lease one homophobe in that high school, and don't we want homophobes to read books, too? I guess not, because apparently there are factors more important than supporting "diverse" interests, like not supporting the interests you don't like.

"Library officials said donated and purchased books alike are evaluated by the same standards, including two positive reviews from professionally recognized journals." This is another great one. I seriously doubt that every book purchased or donated really does need "two positive reviews from professionally recognized journals" to be added to the collection. But just for argument's sake let's take this statement as truth. Notice the wording of it. It needs two reviews in professionally recognized journals. The sweet logic of this is very impressive. "Hey," say the conservative Christians, "we found fifteen journals that reviewed Marriage on Trial!" "I'm sorry," say the librarians, "we don't professionally recognize those journals." It could be the case - and I'm only making the suggestion - that these librarians only "professionally recognize" the sorts of journals that review the sorts of books they already agree with. It's possible, right? Hardly likely, knowing how earnest librarians really are about representing "diverse" viewpoints, including the viewpoints of those mean old conservative Christians, but still possible.

"None of the donated titles met that standard, said Susan Thornily, coordinator of library information services for Fairfax schools." I know this comes as a huge surprise to all of you. "Some librarians also said that the nonfiction books were heavy on scripture but light on research, or that the books would make gay students 'feel inferior,' she said." That was the line that stunned me. Those school librarians were moving along so well, putting up cleverly circular arguments that sounded almost librarian-like. And maybe I can see rejecting a book as "light on research," because I'm sure every anti-conservative nonfiction book in that library is heavily researched and that none of them just state the politically correct opinions of the authors without much argument. That high school must have a rigorous research collection, indeed. But how are we supposed to take seriously the caveat that the books would make gay students "feel inferior"? How is that not a politicized reason not to accept the book? First of all, is it likely these gay students will read the books? Is it just having them on the shelves? Does that make them "feel inferior"? Or is it just knowing that some people out there disapprove of homosexuality? How could any gay students not already know this?

And how is that any different than African American students feeling inferior by having Huckleberry Finn on the shelves? Or conservative Christians feeling "inferior" because every book on homosexuality in their library says exactly the same thing, that every opinion they have is wrong and they are bad people for being so intolerant? Whatever happened to that old librarian standby that just because a book offends a portion of the population doesn't mean it shouldn't be in the collection? They sure like to trot that warhorse out when "conservative Christians" complain about Heather Has Two Very Excited Daddies.

"Thornily said school librarians have rejected other books that 'target minority groups' and would offend African Americans or other nonwhite students." W, as the kids say these days, TF? Is a book arguing homosexuality is wrong "targeting a minority group"? Targeting? Are these books advocating violence against homosexuals? That seems unlikely. Why isn't the Office of Intellectual "Freedom" barking loudly in the direction of Fairfax County and explaining to these librarians that just because some group is "offended" by a book, this is no reason not to have it. In fact, this is a reason to have it, in order to show how much we value "intellectual freedom" and "diversity." Conservative Christians are a minority group, and no one cares about offending them. "In this case, librarians were concerned about the level of scholarship in the books, many of which come from small church publishers." Uh huh. I'm sure that's all it was.

If the politics were reversed, no matter the level of "scholarship," you know the ALA would be swooping down on these poor librarians screaming "Censor!" at them. This example just goes to show the tortured logic some librarians can apply when they don't like the viewpoint of the book. What the conservative Christians need to understand is that librarians can always find a legitimate sounding reason not to add a book to the collection. Personally, that doesn't bother me at all. I don't see why a librarian can't just say, "this looks like a really stupid book and I find it offensive. Out to the recycling bin with it!" What's the big deal really? So what if homophobes don't have any books affirming their views? The library isn't there to support diverse views. It's there to put forward the views librarians approve of. That's why people become librarians in the first place, because they love that power. After all, these books are still available and Focus on the Family would probably be happy to send you a copy. Only the ALA and their minions call it "censorship."

In fact, what's refreshing here is that there was a slip in the bureaucratic explanation. They had that beautiful, circular "professionally recognized journal" argument. Then they had to come out and say they reject books they think might offend some people, especially the librarians. We knew it all along. I'm just glad someone finally admitted it. Come to think of it, since they haven't turned on these librarians, maybe the ALA OIF has finally admitted it as well. A brave new world indeed.

Posted by Annoyed Librarian on October 8, 2008 | Comments

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

"Censors" are So Scary!

"Censors" are So Scary!:
So if some rube gets a book removed from some library, that's the "power of the state" suppressing ideas? What a tremendous leap in logic. Since most book challenges seem to be about books for children, the argument becomes even more bizarre. So, EVERY book is suitable for children? Oh, even on the off chance some librarian actually removed a book, how does that suppress ideas for any of us? If a book is gone, does that really mean "no one else has the chance to read" it? How dumb do you have to be to believe this stuff?

Click to see more clarity like that. It really exemplifies everything SafeLibraries has been saying. The Annoyed Librarian sees right through the ALA's "shameless propaganda."

I highly recommend everyone read the Annoyed Librarian at her new blog at the Library Journal. Here's her former blog.

Brava, AL.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Senate Calls for FCC to Consider Content-Blocking Technologies: The Child Safe Viewing Act

October 2, 2008 4:46 PM PDT
Senate calls for FCC to consider
content-blocking technologies

Posted by Stephanie Condon

The Senate on Wednesday unanimously voted in favor of providing parents with more control over the content their children receive through various technologies.

The Child Safe Viewing Act, introduced last year by Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., requires the Federal Communications Commission to issue a notice of inquiry to examine what advanced content-blocking technologies are available for various communication devices and platforms. It also calls for the FCC to consider how to develop and deploy such technologies without affecting content providers' pricing or packaging.

The bill defines "advanced blocking technologies" as technology that enables parents to protect their children from "indecent or objectionable video or audio programming, as determined by the parent, that is transmitted through the use of wire, wireless, or radio communication."

The legislation still must go through the House of Representatives before being sent to the president.

While the bill does not empower the FCC to do anything other than to produce a report on its findings for Congress, it is one of a handful of steps Congress has taken in recent weeks to address threats new technologies can expose children to.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Know Your Library

"Know Your Library" is a new web site on the scene. It involves efforts by citizens to move inappropriate materials from the teen to the adult section of a public library in St. Louis, MO, exactly as the St. Louis County Library has already done on its own. It also wants content labels for books. It does not support censorship.

Please visit "Know Your Library" to see what's there. This is the community where the American Library Association [ALA] advised the library director to manipulate the media.

Note the ALA says: "there are times when a book might be moved, for example a young adult novel makes it into a fourth or fifth grade classroom and that's more appropriate for the high school library, and a committee can just say this wasn't an appropriate book to buy for this age group but it works for high schoolers and to move it to that high school library."

Source: "Deborah Caldwell-Stone Discusses Banned Books," by Deborah Caldwell-Stone, American Library Association, 11 July 2008. (She says this at the very end of the linked MP3 file.)

So the library moves books and the ALA says moving books is okay. It is not censorship. Then what's the problem with citizens requesting the thing? Why do the media get it so wrong?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Seeking Author Trenton Lee Stewart; A Child Requests his Response to her Excellent Letter

Dear Trenton Lee Stewart,

A child has contacted me asking for my assistance in reaching you, the author of The Mysterious Benedict Society.  She would like you to read her excellent and thoughtful letter and respond to her.  You may do so here, or I will relay your message if you send me one.  I tried to find your contact information online but was not successful.  Hence this method of attempting contact.  Please understand.  Thank you very much.

If anyone knows Trenton Lee Stewart, will you please use the email link at the bottom of this blog post to send this to him? Thank you.

  • NOTE ADDED 24 NOV 2009: TRENTON LEE STEWART HAS RESPONDED IN A COMMENT WITH HIS ADDRESS. PLEASE READ THE COMMENTS TO THIS BLOG POST TO GET THE ADDRESS, THEN WRITE DIRECTLY TO HIM. ENJOY!

Here is the child's letter:


Dear Trenton Lee Stewart,

I read both of the Mysterious Benedict Society books. I thought they were absolutely genius. Both, are my new favorite books.
I love how much detail you put into them. I felt like I was in the book myself. You made the perfect adventures and problems. The characters seemed alive.
I love the personality you gave Reynie. He's sweet, smart, sensitive, and loving. If only he was real. I'd love to meet him. I wonder if he would be able to help me with my math homework. (Or maybe that's Sticky's job.)
At the end of the second book, I loved Sticky's positive attitude. Without Sticky to cheer the group on, they never would of made it to the boat carrying Mr. Benedict and Milligan.
Constance can be stubborn, but she loved Mr. Benedict very much. She had a lot of feelings for him. All she wanted to do was save her family.
Kate is very headstrong and brave. She learned a lot from the circus. She is probably very flexible. She almost never is upset or angry. In real life, if someone carried a bucket everywhere, I don't know what I'd think, but I guess it is pretty smart.
Mr. Curtain is so evil. Why would he ever do things that he planed. What the point? Everyone would rely on him and that would be a lot of work.
I feel bad for S.Q. I think he just didn't know really what to do. He was being a follower instead of a leader. If someone showed him the good path I'd think he would take it.
The Ten Men, had so many different weapons. It must of taken long to come up with them. They were all school supplies.
A few things shocked me at the end of your books. In the first book, you revealed that Constance was three. I had no idea that a stubborn girl like her was capable of learning morse code and practically saving the world. She's probably the smartest girl on the planet.
In the second book you made Milligan jump off a 50 feet cliff. It was amazing. I'm very surprised he lived. I feel bad for Kate. She lived so many years without her father. Finally when he found her again, he jumped off a cliff and completely paralized himself.
The Benedict Society has had many adventures, but I think they should have one more.

Your biggest fan,
Sarah

P.S. Can you E-mail me back?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Banned Books Week Hypocrisy Publicized

Gmail

[ifforum] BBW Hypocrisy Publicized

RKent20551@cs.com Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 7:12 PM
To: ifforum@ala.org, lib@dos.state.fl.us
The Friends of Cuban Libraries
(http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org)
Sept. 29, 2008

Banned Book Week Hypocrisy Publicized

Newspapers are publicizing the American Library Association's sponsorship of Banned Books Week. Sadly, the general public and even some Banned Books Week co-sponsors are unaware of the ALA's alarming hypocrisy regarding censorship, book burning and library repression in Cuba.

In response to the ALA's complicity with censorship and repression in Cuba, the Friends of Cuban Libraries have launched an Anti-Hypocrisy Campaign to inform the public of the ALA's tragic failure to defend its most basic principle, freedom of expression.

In response to ALA publicity, the Friends of Cuban Libraries are sending responses to the "feedback" columns of newspapers innocently cheerleading the ALA's hypocritical sponsorship of Banned Books Week. As part of this Anti-Hypocrisy campaign, we have posted messages on the websites of several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Florida Sun-Sentinel. As an example of our effort to publicize the ALA's scandalous violation of its most basic principle, copied below is a response to a pro-BBW article appearing today on the Chicago Tribune's website.
-------------------------------------------

Chicago Tribune, Sept. 30, 2008:


"Citizens of Chicago are beginning to realize that the noble principles embodied in the ALA's Banned Books Week are being trampled into the mud by a militant faction which has seized control of key ALA offices.

"This faction is trying to ignore and cover up censorship, court-ordered book burning and persecution of librarians in Cuba. Renowned anti-censorship authorities such as Ray Bradbury, Nat Hentoff, Madeleine Albright and Anthony Lewis have spoken out on this issue at ALA conferences. Sadly, these appeals to principle have been ignored, thanks to the complacency of the well-meaning but ignorant majority on the ALA's governing Council who are oblivious to the takeover of the ALA by scheming extremists.

"For details on this emerging scandal, please refer to our organization's website at (http://www.friendsofcubanlibraries.org)"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The ALA and Castration

What does the American Library Association [ALA] have to do with castration? Nothing.

But I see an unmistakable comparison between the rationalization of the ALA and that of the FX Networks in at least one respect. Let me show you the evidence, then figure this out for yourselves.

First, please read the following stories:
Next, please consider the following quotes from the above articles, emphasis added. First, the "Castration" article:
On Sept.17, viewers of the appropriately named new series "Sons of Anarchy" were "treated" to a graphic castration scene, complete with hacked-off genitals shown lying in a pool of blood.

Completely tasteless programming is in, and FX bathes in it. The mastermind of all that Rupert Murdoch-backed villainy is an executive named John Landgraf, who pronounces his philosophical approach thusly: "One of our writers used to say, 'Bad men do what good men can only dream about.' There is a sense that what these characters are doing is allowing us to explore, in a safe context, our id and subconscious, what we might do if there were no restraints of society or conscience on us."
....
In a nutshell, what we're hearing is FX executives who have a lot more sensitivity to the "vision" of a seriously twisted human being than they do to the prospect of a 10-year-old boy finding a terrifying castration scene as he's flipping channels in his home.

Now here are the quotes from the "Racy Reading" article:
The latest book to fan the flames is Paul Ruditis' "Rainbow Party," about an oral-sex party that never happens, in part because the teens who've been invited have major reservations. The book ... highlights the dangers of oral sex and sexually transmitted diseases, but has been criticized by some parents and conservative commentators.

"Rainbow Party" isn't exactly flying off the shelves -- because it isn't on most bookstore shelves. Barnes & Noble and Borders are selling the book on their Web sites only. And many libraries are passing on the book -- not for censorship reasons, but because it lacks literary merit, they say.
....
But books can provoke discussions, says Pam Spencer Holley of the American Library Association. Although she wouldn't hand a child a copy of "Rainbow Party" without comment, she thinks that book -- and others -- can provoke family discussions.

"I think I'd say, 'This is something we need to sit and talk about,' " says Holley. "It's a way for kids to experience something at a safe distance -- and a way for them to make up their minds about how they would respond in that kind of situation."

She's happy to see teen girls reading. Eventually, girls who are reading Gossip Girls will move on to better books, she says.

"Unless you read stuff that's perhaps not the most literary, you'll never understand what good works are," says Holley. "But when you get them hooked on reading, then you can lead them so many other places, as far as books go."

Besides, she says, what's the worst thing that can happen? "Nobody complains about the adult women who read Harlequin romances."

Does anyone see the similarities? Do I have to spell it out? Are these rationalizations for sexualizing children legitimate? Any comments?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ALA Web Site Disaster - Hyperlinks No Longer Work; ALA's New Web Site Makes Many Former URLs Obsolete

The ALA has revamped its web site, and in the process, at least some former hyperlinks fail to work.  They are not being redirected to new URLs.  I have so many links to the ALA web site to support my findings, I just don't know what to do.  I'll bet everyone else is similarly affected.

Does anyone have any ideas about how to resolve this?  Like by convincing the ALA to set up redirects, or by using Archive.org, or by mass editing hyperlinks (hopefully not)?

For example,  the ALA's "Library Bill of Rights" used to be at:

http://www.ala.org/ala/
oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights
.htm

and now it is at:

http://www.ala.org/ala/
aboutala/offices/
oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights
.cfm

All you get now is this:

Page Not Found

The page you're looking for is unavailable at the web address you used.  The American Library Association has implemented a new site architecture and has reorganized all of the content on the site.

Here are some strategies to use to find the information you are seeking.

  • Try browsing to the page, using the navigation on the left side of the page.
  • Use the site search function (the search box is in the upper right quadrant of the page).  search bar graphic
  • Contact Karen Muller, the ALA Librarian, at library@ala.org for assistance.  She (or another member of the Library staff) will try to find the page, or connect you to the unit responsible for the page, usually within a business day.

Thank you for visiting ALA's new website!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Scholastic Tells ALA to Take a Hike; Drops Bratz Books from Catalog on Eve of ALA's Phoney "Banned Books Week"

"Scholastic, one of North America's biggest distributors of books to schools, has removed the Bratz line of books from its catalogue after parents complained the characters contributed to the sexualization of children." "Scholastic Drops Bratz Books," by CBC News, 20 September 2008. On the eve of the American Library Association's [ALA] phoney "Banned Books Week," Scholastic drops an entire line of books in response to concerns about the sexualization of children.

To me, the timing is no accident. This is Scholastic sending the ALA a message: "Take a hike, ALA. Keeping sexually inappropriate material from children is neither book banning nor censorship. Others may be intimidated by you, but we are not."

Also see:




"Scholastic Drops Bratz Books," by CBC News, 20 September 2008

Scholastic, one of North America's biggest distributors of books to schools, has removed the Bratz line of books from its catalogue after parents complained the characters contributed to the sexualization of children.

Bratz books are a spinoff from the line of female dolls, which are often clothed in miniskirts, bikinis, fishnet stockings and boas.

In a statement released Friday, Scholastic said its decision to remove the Bratz books did not stem from the parental campaign but instead claimed that its offerings "change all the time."

The company admitted it had been the target of a "couple of thousand" e-mails from concerned parents, following an initiative by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in 2007.

Thousands of parents e-mailed Scholastic to complain that it was "marketing precocious sexuality to young girls in schools."

A report last year from the American Psychological Association said that "the objectified sexuality presented by these dolls … is limiting for adolescent girls and even more so for the very young girls who represent the market for these dolls."

"We're not interested in banning books," Susan Linn, psychiatry instructor at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood coalition, told the Guardian newspaper.

"What we think is that there should not be commercialism in schools and that when schools market a product to children it is particularly effective. First, because it's a captive market, and second, because it carries extra weight — even if children don't like school, they know it's meant to be good for them."

At the time Scholastic offered the books, the company had said the titles featured "strong, capable girl characters" and were aimed at children who didn't like to read.

MGA Entertainment, the company that makes the Bratz dolls, has previously said its line of dolls stand for "passion, self-expression and the importance of friendship."

Copyright CBC News 2008. Reprinted for Copyright Fair Use educational purposes.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Lewis and Clark's Gay Adventure; Helena, MT, and the Homosexuality Red Herring

Many on both sides of an issue at the Lewis & Clark Library in Helena, MT, are taking a common library concern and exacerbating it by raising the red herring of homosexuality.  The library's collection contains "The Joy of Gay Sex."  Access to it by children is not restricted in any way, causing a controversy.  However, obvious overtones of homosexuality are causing people to lose focus on the underlying legitimate interest.  As the US Supreme Court put it in United States v. American Library Assocation, "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."  Apparently, like "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure," we are now on "Lewis & Clark's Gay Adventure," and US v. ALA is just a George Carlin joke.

Paul Cohen is the person who raised the matter about the book in the first place.  He realizes "this principle applies whether homosexual or heterosexual."  But many of his supporters, detractors, and those in the media are turning this issue into one about homosexuality.  Linked here are a number of media reports on this Helena, MT, library matter.

It is my opinion those who support his position are raising concerns about homosexuality out of a misunderstanding of the purposes of public libraries.  But those who oppose his position raise concerns about homosexuality knowing it is a red herring.

For example, in an analogous situation, parents in a public school in Howell, MI, complained about a book because it contained, among other things, bestiality.  The American Library Association [ALA] implied those parents were racist for opposing the book containing bestiality because the author is "black."  The public school, now chastised by the ALA for being racist, chose to keep the bestiality book available for students.  So much for local control.

And look at the title of that article: "Group Targets Black Authors' Books."  It is like the titles of stories now circulating, e.g., "Library Holds Hearing on Gay-Sex Book," Associated Press, 18 September 2008.  What a difference it would make if the titles were unbiased: "Group Targets Books Containing Bestiality"; "Library Holds Hearing on Book Deemed Inappropriate for Children."  I made this very observation evident to the Howell community, but the ALA is too intimidating, so it often gets away with bullying tactics, such as calling people racist.  

Do the people of Helena, MT, want to suffer the same fate?  Does the existence of some "anti-gay" people or an inartfully-framed argument mean children should continue to be exposed to inappropriate material despite the US Supreme Court, the law, and common sense?  There are perfectly reasonable and legal means to restrict children's access to inappropriate materials in public libraries.  If Paul Cohen did not make this case well enough, that does not mean nothing should be done.  Helena citizens should set aside library misinformation and biased media reports and editorials and take action accordingly.  (One editorial even promoted the ALA's "Banned Books Week," which Thomas Sowell calls "National Hogwash Week.")

I recommend people on all sides drop the issue of homosexuality since it is irrelevant to the matter of protecting children from material inappropriate for minors.  I realize those who support Paul Cohen will find this tough medicine to swallow, and those who oppose him will continue to use the homosexuality angle as the red herring it is.  After all, calling parents racists worked in keeping the children exposed to bestiality, so why not follow the ALA's lead and call people bigots?

By the way, Paul Cohen has created an excellent resource on this "Joy of Gay Sex" matter.  It is excellent because it contains the opinions of people on all sides of this issue.  See "Summary of the Public Hearing with Paul's Commentary."  A similar article presenting all sides of an issue that I had made available, "Ban the Bunnies," was used as course material in the #1 library and information science Ph.D. school in the USA.  Thank you, Paul Cohen, for making this useful resource available.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Windsor Public Library Claims Age Discrimination If Children Kept From Inappropriate Material, Thereby Misinforming its Community

Here is my Letter to the Editor submitted to the Windsor Journal in response to "Request to Remove Sex Education Book From Library Denied," by Jacqueline Bennett, The Windsor Journal, 18 September 2008.

Dear Editor:

Having read the recent article in the Windsor Journal about the Timothy Bergsma's concern regarding a library book, my overall impression is that what is missing is accurate information. When people make decisions, they should be informed decisions, not misinformed ones. Sadly, it appears the library has misinformed the citizens and the government of Windsor, CT.

The decision to refuse to remove the book was correct, but the decision to refuse to move it out of "Kidspace" is where the misinformation plays a role.

The prominent mention of the "Library Bill of Rights" and the recitation of "Article V" is presented without any balance whatsoever. Apparently, the library has led people to believe it would be "age" discrimination for a librarian to keep certain materials away from children. But this is misinformation for at least two reasons.

One, the library has not disclosed that in a case the American Library Association [ALA] lost in the US Supreme Court in 2003 entitled US v. ALA, the Court said, "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." So why does the ALA continue to call it "age" discrimination, and why does the Windsor library misinform the public similarly? See http://tinyurl.com/us-v-ala for yourself.

Two, the library was created by some local law that set out its mission. I'll bet ALA policy is not a part of that mission. If the library claims it is "age" discrimination to keep children from any material, that follows ALA policy, but it likely falls outside your own public library law that created the library in the first place. In other words, the library may be acting outside the law. In such a case, the government has every right and duty to step in to ensure compliance with the law. "Bergsma said technically the town manager has the authority to modify library policy." He may be correct, at least where the library is acting outside the law.

And no letters from any "Intellectual Freedom Committee" or similarly misinformed decisions "made in other towns" should make a difference. Is it "intellectual freedom" to allow a child access to inappropriate material even in the face of common sense, local law, and US v. ALA?

Mayor Donald Trinks is reported as having said the library made the "right choices." He also said, "One person's pornography is another person's art." I infer from the article that the Mayor did not have a full opportunity to become informed about the issues at the time of the interview, so I credit the Mayor for speaking out as he did. However, he is incorrect.

First, claiming it is a violation of "constitutional rights" to move a book from one section of the library to another is wrong. Even the ALA admits that does not present a problem. Listen to the podcast at http://www.pio.ala.org/visibility/?p=141 to hear a major leader in the ALA say this herself.

Second, saying "one person's pornography is another person's art" is a way of saying anything goes. Ignore what US v. ALA said about children and inappropriate material. Ignore what local law says is the purpose of the local library. Ignore common sense. Anything goes. Besides, the issue is not pornography. As US v. ALA illustrates, the issue is "material inappropriate for minors," which is significantly different.

I certainly hope the citizens and especially the government get educated in a balanced fashion. Where the library is the sole source of that information, the news story reveals that would be an exercise in misinformation.

"Jepsen said he has confidence in the judgment of the library professionals." Really? Citizens should read US v. ALA. Listen to that ALA podcast I linked. Get out the local law that created the library and read it carefully. Get educated so library misinformation is easier to see.

Windsor children may be protected from inappropriate materials in a legal manner, but for the clouds of misinformation about "age" discrimination presented by the library in reliance on ALA policy.

###



by Jacqueline Bennett, The Windsor Journal, 18 September 2008
(reprinted under the Fair Use provision of the US Copyright Act):

A resident's requests to have a children's sex education book removed from the Main Library or relocated to a different section have been denied. The matter was part of an annual report from the Windsor Library Advisory Board to the Town Council on Sept. 15 at town hall. According to library board chairman Michael Raphael, over the last year one resident - Timothy Bergsma, of 24 Michelle Lane - made three separate requests to the board in regard to the same book. Initially, Bergsma asked the former library director Laura Kahkonen, who retired this summer, to remove the book. Citing library policy, she refused. Then Bergsma went to the library board that backed Kahkonen and voted unanimously to uphold the Library Development Collection Policy.

Adopted by the library board in 2007, the policy states: "while the library is aware that one or more persons may take issue with the selection of any items, the library does not have to remove from the shelves items purchased in accordance with the policy outlined here." The policy goes on to say that the purpose of the materials collection at the Main Library is to "make available materials for educational, informational and recreational needs of the community."

In addition, it states that the library subscribes to the Library Bill of Rights, which as interpreted by the American Library Association (ALA), essentially protects the intellectual freedom of minors. The ALA's interpretation states: "Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal access to all library resources and services to other users violate the Library Bill of Rights." Article V of the Library Bill of Rights reads: "A person's right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views."

Raphael said the library board's response to the resident's requests is consistent with responses to similar complaints made in other towns. A letter of support was received by the board from Peter Chase of the Intellectual Freedom Committee, he noted.

Subsequent to the original request, says Gaye Rizzo, the Main Library's new director, Bergsma filled out a reconsideration form and brought two more requests directly to the board, both of which were denied on the basis of present library policy. The second request was that the book be moved to the young adults section and a third request asked that the book be moved to the parents section

According to Rizzo, the title of the book in question is "Sex, Puberty and All That Stuff."

In a phone interview Tuesday, Bergsma said "I was browsing through the children's section. I wasn't looking for trouble."

A Roman Catholic father of five children ranging in age from infant to 12, Bergsma said the family moved to Windsor in 2005. Two of his school-age children are home schooled while two others attend a parochial school. He said when he lived in Waterford he wrote a letter objecting to material at the Groton Public Library but did not pursue it because that was not his town library.

Bergsma said he wants other materials removed from the Main Library in Windsor but thus far has only made formal requests regarding the book. He contends the book goes beyond education and "advocates" behavior that he finds objectionable, as being acceptable or "normal," including masturbation, group masturbation, homosexual relationships, petting, oral sex, abortion and contraceptive use

"These viewpoints are being advocated to our youngest patrons," he said

Bergsma said the book is located in an area called "Kidspace." He believes that presenting these behaviors to children as being widely accepted promotes a further "degeneration of our sexual mores."

Although the library board denied his requests, members did ask library staff to look for additional materials to add to the collection that would represent a variety of viewpoints and to ask Bergsma for suggestions. The staff has followed through and, according to Bergsma, was even able to find more materials than he could. Nonetheless, he said he is not satisfied with adding materials as a solution.

Bergsma said he has also asked the library board to allow an exchange between the public and the members at their meetings so his questions can be answered directly. Currently, library board agendas allow for public comment but if a matter is not on the agenda it is not discussed by the board

The library board does not have a set meeting schedule, rather it meets quarterly at the call of special meetings. Its next meeting will likely be in October and Bergsma said he plans to attend. If the board does not arrange for a direct discussion between the public and the board, Bergsma said he plans to next approach Town Manager Peter Souza. Bergsma said technically the town manager has the authority to modify library policy.

If he feels it is necessary to go to Souza and does not get what he considers to be a satisfactory response, Bergsma said he plans then to bring his issues before the town council, which appoints members of the library board. He said he believes the board should be comprised of a membership more representative of all of Windsor . "The 9-0 votes I've been getting on these requests show the library board does not represent the whole town," he said

Mayor Donald Trinks, a Democrat, and Republican Councilor Donald Jepsen each said this week they are not familiar with the book.

Based on the information he does have, Trinks said, constitutional rights may be involved and that thus far library staff and board members have made the "right choices" following the process that is in place

"This was the first I had heard of it. It does bring up certain interest about constitutional rights, the town's obligation to disseminate all information and a parent's right not to have a child exposed to it," said the mayor.

Trinks added that parents have a responsibility to monitor what their children read at a public library just as they would monitor what their children watch on television.

Trinks and Jepsen agreed that passing judgement on the book is subjective. "One person's pornography is another person's art," said Trinks.

Jepsen said he has confidence in the judgment of the library professionals. "Everyone's threshold for what they find acceptable is different. It's the old question - 'what is pornography?' I don't know, but I'll know if I see it," said Jepsen.

As for a possible request to remove current library board members in regard to this situation, Jepsen said, "That is extreme."

©Windsor Journal 2008