Wellington Town Council recently voted to ban essentially all books in the town’s public library.
Previously, resident Christine Gaiter asked the board in August to remove 19 books from the public library’s shelves and put them in a place that children cannot access without adult permission.
The board later did not decide to remove or restrict books, but approved a resolution 5-2 stating that the board could not “censor, suppress, delete, monitor, or place age limits on ideas or information in our public libraries.”
So we asked our Colorado Conversation community a question: Should Wellington’s ban on books be a model for other Colorado libraries?
Conversations on the issue and comments on Coloradoans reporting on the issue explored some of these potential concerns:
How does the community decide what is harmful?
Gate’s request was in response to pornography in books such as “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “The Perks of a Wallflower,” and “The Bluest Eye.”
“My problem is that the books have too much graphic detail about sexuality,” she said. “They are not suitable for children. Libraries should be safe places for families and children.”
But other commenters see the potential for double standards or slippery slopes.
“Should the Bible be included in the ban?” asked Bob W., quoting:
- Reference to the Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Songs in the Bible.
- Note the adult theme in Proverbs 5:19.
- Also note that the word “rape” is mentioned nine times in the Bible. “
“Dr. Seuss is banned nationwide. … ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is banned in school districts in Washington and California. Public schools haven’t seen the Bible for decades. … Anyone complaining about trying to Parents who are finding age-appropriate reading material in public school libraries may want to see if they have double standards,” Andy O said.
Taking a middle ground, Dylan J. noted, “We should…all should be careful to delineate between invocations prohibit specific books and appeals restricted access Books based on criteria such as age. There are good arguments for limiting children’s access to material that adults should have for free. For example, I work in a bookstore where we buy used books from the public for resale. We regularly purchase books that are immediately placed in locked boxes and cannot be read by minors without parental consent. …however, when someone argues that “the library does not contain my Christian ethics” and therefore certain works should be age-restricted based on that alone, you can see how flimsy and ridiculous this argument is of. For example, what if Jehovah’s Witnesses advocated restricting access to books on blood transfusions under the same premise? Or Orthodox Jews who want to limit non-kosher recipes? Public libraries are for the benefit of the general public, not special interests. “
How to deal with parental rights and parental style?
“When can parents invoke their parental rights?” Andy O. asked.
“Whenever their child wants to borrow a book from the public library,” Michael D. replied. “This has nothing to do with anyone being forced or even asked to read. There are 19 books that a few people want removed from public libraries. If parents don’t want their children to read those books, that’s 100% of them.”
In all points of view on book limits, there is a call for respect for different parenting styles.
“The library didn’t contain my Christian ethics,” Gate explained at one of the meetings. “There are Christians in this town who think like me. You don’t have to agree with our views, but I do ask that you respect us and incorporate our views into your decision-making process.”
On the other hand, Deborah F. said, “It is absolutely unacceptable to try to dictate which reading materials should be readily available to others.”
“If parents have questions about their child’s reading material, maybe they should accompany the child to the library, or limit the child’s account,” she said.
“Logically, one would think that parents should make decisions based on family values,” k._k. Say. “I appreciate this library talk because as a parent, I want to know what’s going on with our taxpayer-funded libraries. Unfortunately, our state and schools have laws and statutes that harm parents,” noting letting kids The ability to make decisions about health care and school policies – without parental intervention or consent.
So who is responsible for taking action?
Whether parents or institutions have more responsibility for normative content is a question, although most commenters focus on one party rather than both:
“I think the only thing Mrs Gate asks for is the same regulations you see in cinemas etc and I tend to agree with that. Books illustrating sexuality, nudity etc should be clearly marked and possibly transferred to more adults in the library part, rather than mingling with ordinary books that children can access,” said Michael Scott S. “If people don’t think there’s anything wrong with making these kinds of books easily accessible to underage children, then why are playboys, lofts, etc. not available in libraries or openly displayed in stores? Because society makes moral decisions about such materials and illustrations It should not be in the public eye and should be available to minors at any time.”
However, “there is no Fifty Shades of Grey in the toddler section,” Briana H. points out.
“At some point, people need to realize that professionals who have spent years in higher education institutions should be allowed to do their jobs,” Harry S. said. “Let librarians decide what library books belong to. Let doctors decide what is the appropriate treatment. Let biologists decide what is best for the environment. These experts can take ‘public’ opinion into account when making decisions. … …if you don’t want your kids to read these books, tell your kids, not everyone’s kids, that you don’t think these books are for them.”
Or, he says, read a book with them:
“Like my mother before, I spent a lot of time when my children were young reading a lot of literature that I had absolutely no interest in reading. Like my mother, I spent my free time doing it, Because that’s my responsibility as a teacher. Parents know what my kids are reading. It’s worth the time. It allows me to discuss the books with them. It allows me to relieve me with a few books assigned to them Knowing the problem schools that can arise in my extremely sensitive children. It is my job to supervise the children’s reading….It may take a village to raise a child, but every child is different, decided What each child can and cannot read should be the responsibility of the child’s parent and no one else.”
“A simple solution might be to leave your child in the library’s children’s section,” suggests Carl C.
But Craig Z. wonders if it’s feasible, especially if you have two kids browsing different parts of the library at the same time, “Is it really feasible to hover over a child when age-sensitive material is mixed in with other materials , maybe grab a book his/her hand in order to review it?”