Dear Tim Sheehan,
FOR PUBLICATION IN FRESNO BEE:
Deborah Caldwell-Stone is quoted as saying, "it's up to the local library to decide what's in the best interest in its community." She is correct. And she adds, assuringly, "The ALA clearly does not condone child pornography." But what does not appear in the article is the heavy handed approach by the ALA in directing local libraries what to think is in their best interests, essentially leaving many libraries as satellites of the ALA--and open to child pornography.
Here is the advice the ALA provides to local libraries in one of its sample policies: "As for obscenity and child pornography, prosecutors and police have adequate tools to enforce criminal laws. Libraries are not a component of law enforcement efforts...." http://www.ala.org/ala/oif
As further confirmation of how the ALA leads local libraries to follow ALA policies instead of community standards, notice how both the library and the ALA argue that no one can really judge what is child pornography. Caldwell-Stone puts it best, "One person's 'pornography' is another person's 'Venus de Milo' or Michelangelo's 'David.'"
"What one person might object to is constitutionally protected material," says Caldwell-Stone. Correct, but that is intentionally misleading. According the US v. ALA, public libraries are not open public fora where anything goes. All constitutionally protected material does not get automatically included in all library collections. Indeed libraries are created by some legal instrument that describes explicitly or implicitly what material is acceptable in the public library and what material is not acceptable, even if that material may be constitutionally protected. For example, US v. ALA explained Internet filters may be used to extend existing book collection policies and practices over the Internet, and those existing policies exclude certain constitutionally protected material. So, thanks to local library enabling legislation, otherwise constitutionally protected material may represent a violation of local law. The ALA should not be advising local libraries to violate the very local laws that created them.
Most shocking is that the ALA and Caldwell-Stone lost on these issues in US v. ALA, yet they are continuing to argue these same issues already asked and answered by the US Supreme Court five years ago. Notice the use of ad hominem argument to further obfuscate the issue, "Libraries are truly a democratic institution and should represent everyone, not just a loud majority," said Deborah Caldwell-Stone. What if the "loud majority" is legally correct?
Shame on the ALA, but more shame goes to local communities if they continue to be misled by the ALA or allow the media to report ALA misinformation without question. It does appear, however, that Lindsay leadership is not fooled by the ALA, and Tim Sheehan's article was even handed. Slowly, communities are waking up to the negative influences of the ALA's grip over local library policy. That is good news for children and communities nationwide.