Saturday, December 01, 2007

Librarians for Freedom, Again

In the place where bears feed, Macungie, Pennsylvania, librarians again seem to have a clearer sense of what it should mean to be an American in a republic than some citizens. Some bluenoses and likely homophobics there figured they could dictate what all kids and all parents could check out of the public library.

Bear note: The art is off the town logo.

Amusingly enough, they zoomed in on the same book that so disgruntled our own Mad Dad in Lexington. They demanded that King & King, the early reader book that has a cartoon prince bypassing a parade of princess potential brides in favor of another prince.

In Lexington, it should have been fine and was for the vast majority of parents and children. After all, same-sex marriage is the law of the land in Massachusetts, civil unions are commonplace elsewhere, and the Lexington schools have numerous families headed by same-sex couples.

In the suburb of Allentown, Pennsylvania, some parents can pretend that they don't even want their kids exposed to such real-world relationships. That's their business, until they decide they will cleanse the pubic libraries to support their private belief system.

A detailed article in the (Allentown) Morning Call described how more courageous and freedom-minded librarians put their feet down. We should all be aware that this has become a common occurrence in this country. Librarians have told bullies as high as Homeland Security snoopers where the lines to free speech and privacy are. They are a gutsy bunch, it would seem.

Lower Macungie Library Directory Kathee Rhode puts it, "'That's what a public library does, and you make the choice. We certainly want parents to make that decision for their children — not one parent making that decision for all children.''

She and the library's board report that an American Library Association attorney told them "that removing a book because of its subject matter could be considered unconstitutional based on case law and could open the library up to a lawsuit."

The book has been in the library for two years, being checked out about once a month. Parents Eileen and Jeff Issa were shocked, shocked, when they saw it. As she said, "I saw them at the altar and I said, 'This can't be what I'm thinking.' I was sick."

The pair demanded that the library remove the book from circulation. They claim to have gathered 40 signatures in support. The library board denied the demand twice and were backed up the township supervisors, who refused to overrule the decision.

As one measure of the librarians' integrity, the supervisors appoint their board and control the budget. In Lower Macungie, as in Lexington, First Amendment rights are not subject to the fiats of the few.

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3 comments:

SafeLibraries.org said...

"She and the library's board report that an American Library Association attorney told them 'that removing a book because of its subject matter could be considered unconstitutional based on case law and could open the library up to a lawsuit.'"

What was the name of that "American Library Association attorney"?

Has that person provided anything in writing that can be republished here for all to see?

massmarrier said...

The article didn't say, but I suspect you can get any contact info you want from the library site. Comment back here if you find good stuff. Thanks.

SafeLibraries.org said...

Thanks for the tip. Based on it, I submitted the following to the library using its online form:

Regarding the King & King kerfuffle, the newspapers reported an ALA attorney provided your library with advice. Who was that attorney, has that attorney's response been made public or will it be, and where? I would like to post it here: http://massmarrier.blogspot.com/2007/12/librarians-for-freedom-again.html

Thank you.

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