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WISSUP - WISCONSIN SPEAKS UP


Copyright (c) 2009 Ginny Maziarka. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Links to websites concerning WB Library issue...

IF you live in West Bend, Germantown, Hartford, Slinger and Kewaskum, this meeting is for you. If you live in Dodge, Jefferson, Racine, Walworth and or Washington County - you are part of the shared library system. TAKE NOTICE.


LIBRARY BOARD MEETING IS THURSDAY, MARCH 26, AT 6:30 P.M.
SILVERBROOK MIDDLE SCHOOL

LINKS:
West Bend Library Home Page: http://www.west-bendlibrary.org/
Out of the Closet book recommendations on WB Library website: http://www.west-bendlibrary.org/yaglbtq.htm
ACLU statement: http://wissup.blogspot.com/2009/03/aclu-we-are-not-afraid.html and http://wissup.blogspot.com/2009/03/aclu-misinformed.html
WHY THE ACLU? http://wissup.blogspot.com/2009/03/agenda-exposed-aclu.html
KEWASKUM STATESMAN statement: http://wissup.blogspot.com/2009/03/kewaskum-statesman-refuses-to-share.html

WHAT WE ARE ASKING FOR: http://wissup.blogspot.com/2009/02/west-bend-library-thumbs-nose-at.html

Our requests are three-fold:
1.
To bring balance to the YA Zone as well as the adult section of our library by providing faith-based and ex-“gay” books that oppose a pro-homosexual ideology .
2. That the book recommendation list under the name “Out of the Closet”, which brings a pro-homosexual connotation to the list, be renamed and include an equal balance of faith-based and ex-“gay” books that oppose a pro-homosexual ideology.
3. We are asking for the removal of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “The Geography Club” for their explicit pornographic sexual nature. We have additionally requested "Deal With It!" be withheld, as it appears that it is in the works for our YA Zone.

Our Library’s policy, in part B, states that they will endeavor to acquire materials that “meet the community’s needs and interests.” We expect our public library to protect our children and empower parents to decide what their children can read.

EXCERPTS (WARNING! SEXUALLY EXPLICIT! Do not click on the "excerpts" links if you do not wish to view pornographic and sexually graphic material.)

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower: The entire book can be found here: http://www.wattpad.com/112156-The-Perks-of-Being-A-Wallflower-Stephen-Chbosky or select exerpts can be found here: http://www.librarypatrons.org/book.asp?ID=56
2. Deal with it! : http://www.librarypatrons.org/book.asp?ID=24
3. The Geography Club: http://www.librarypatrons.org/book.asp?ID=31

POLICIES:
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, policies 53.1.15, 53.9 and 53.12: http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/governance/policymanual/index.cfm#S2-53%20Intellectual%20Freedom
WISCONSIN STATE STATUTES: http://wsll.state.wi.us/topic/familylaw/childexpl.html


HELPFUL PARENTAL LINKS (gives excerpts of books that a parent may be questioning):
1. http://www.safelibraries.org/
2. http://www.pabbis.org/
3. http://www.librarypatrons.org/book.asp?ID=24 (our favorite)
4. http://www.coalition4families.com/site/ArticleComment.aspx?id=12045&rpid=4486

"How did we get here?" QUOTE read on the air by Dan Kleinman (view entire article here): http://www.metrovoice.net/www.metrovoice.net/2008/0908_stlweb/0908_articles/whos_controlling_county_libraries.html

STATEMENT FROM WISCONSIN FAMILY COUNCIL: http://wissup.blogspot.com/2009/02/wfc-disses-west-bend-library.html

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

So this is what Christianity looks like in the 21st century? A bunch of hooligans who've spent too much time in the woods reading nothing but Leviticus?
I don't suppose you've considered the mortgage crisis or the world-wide food shortages to rank anywhere near the threat GAYS (booogy boogy boogy) pose to us.
Not even your own national heros cared to listen to such inane ignorance. Dick Cheney's daughter has a same sex partner, and they are raising a happy family. So much for America and our leaders being founded on the vitriol you claim as morality. Leave the fringe, come into the light, learn about algebra and the sun, not the earth, being at the center of this galaxy.

Anonymous said...

Mind giving page numbers and a compilation of the passages in those books that have offended you? Really, without those things, you are essentially just tossing titles into your argument in an attempt buttress its legitimacy.

Libraries, as institutions, are non-denominational, non-partisan, and as all-encompassing as possible. A library is a place of open opinion, knowledge, and material. A person from any walk of life, religious affiliation, political view, socio-economic background, ethnicity, or sexual orientation/identity should feel comfortable and welcome in such a public establishment, as well as be able to find materials that interest them.

I have to disagree with you on the matter of public libraries being responsible for what your children read. As parents, it is our responsibility to monitor and restrict access to materials or media which we might not want them being exposed to. The library is and should never be watchdogs for your children's development. They are a resource only, it is OUR job to decide how and WHAT aspects of that resource we make available to our own children.

I am all for balance in a public library collection; but, you don't gain balance by removing items that you might not agree with. That is censorship, plain and simple. It's and ugly word; but, the truth usually isn't pretty. It is censorship and it's a darn slippery slope, once you start down that road. We like to say this country is founded on the free exchange of ideas and freedom to live one's life as one might see fit (within the boundary of the law). This includes things which we may not feel comfortable or in full agreement about. Such is the double edged sword of freedom of expression and thought. A library should be the very embodiment of that sword. Any person should be able to walk into a library and find materials they might agree with as well and materials that offend that person's sensibilities.


The minute you remove or restrict and ideology you disagree with is the moment you put your own right to express in jeopardy. Tread carefully West Bend, for its your own rights you tread upon.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Anon. 1: Typical response from someone who is misinformed and wants to sling mud at Christians.

Anon. 2: I have offered all the links for you to peruse books as you please. I have done my homework, you do yours. I made it easy for you.

Again, misinformed. I never said the "library is responsible for what our children read." I said the library needs to empower parents to help their children make good and informed decisions and keep pornography off of their shelves.

I could not agree with you more in that libraries.....are all-encompassing as possible. Our point exactly. We want more information on the shelves, not less.

Last, more misinformation. We did not ask for the homosexual books to be removed. Moot point.

Maria Hanrahan said...

"I never said the "library is responsible for what our children read." I said the library needs to empower parents to help their children make good and informed decisions and keep pornography off of their shelves." - WISSUP

"We expect our public library to protect our children and empower parents to decide what their children can read." - WISSUP

Is it just me, or do these two statements not jive? You "never said that the library is responsible for what our children read," yet "the library is expected to protect our children?" YOU are expected to protect your children!

You say that people are misinformed about what you are asking for, and that you have not requested that books be removed, only that "balance" is achieved. Yet "We further asked for the removal of any book in the youth section of our library, i.e., children’s, young adult/YA Zone, that contains perverse and pornographic language." - WISSUP

What gives you the right to judge library materials as "perverse and pornographic" and demand that they be removed? You do not have that right.

I like how anyone that has an opinion that opposes you is "misinformed." You are the one that I believe is misinformed. In your recent interview on Fox 6 News, you said "All the books, every book that was in the Young Adult Zone was a pro-homosexual theme with nothing being offered on the opposite spectrum." (A link to this interview is posted within the WISSUP blog posts.) Here is the link to the Young Adult Zone: http://www.west-bendlibrary.org/yara.htm. If you visit it, you will see that it clearly includes lists of all sorts of titles, including Sports, Autobiographies and Biographies, Historical Fiction and Christian Fiction. The "Out of the Closet" category that you seem to find so objectionable is just minor one component of the Young Adult Zone.

What is next? Will you be demanding that book stores ban the two or three titles you object to as well? When will it end?

Maria Hanrahan
West Bend resident

Scarred said...

You're links do not work correctly. I wanted to see the pornographic portions of "The Geography Club". Instead I got the pornographic portions of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower". I'm really disappointed... Although scarred for life by the pornographic part "over the summer...she grew breasts". Girls grow breasts?? Shocking! I don't want my children to know about these things.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Thanks for the heads up.

I'll look into the links this evening.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

The links have now been fixed.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Maria,

"We expect our public library to protect our children and empower parents to decide what their children can read." - WISSUP

Right you are! Our expectation to protect our children from pornography according to state statutes is not an unjustifiable request.

Is the library ultimately "responsible" for what our children read? No.

Glad we agree on that.

"I am all for balance in a public library collection; but, you don't gain balance by removing items that you might not agree with. "

Once again, agreed!
We are not looking to gain balance by removing items or censoring. We are asking for more information on the subject of homosexuality so all aspects of the subject are available to our youth.

"In your recent interview on Fox 6 News, you said "All the books, every book that was in the Young Adult Zone was a pro-homosexual theme with nothing being offered on the opposite spectrum........ If you visit it, you will see that it clearly includes lists of all sorts of titles..."

Let's keep this in context. There are separate categories for different themes within the YA Zone. I have explicitly spelled that out. If the media edits for their own attention-seeking purposes, I am not responsible for that. Every book that was in the YA Zone in the category of "Out of the Closet" was prohomosexual. There.

"It is censorship and it's a darn slippery slope, once you start down that road."

The exclusion of all materials on this subject clearly fits your statement. We are simply pointing out that it needs to be made right.

Thanks for the dialogue.

Maria Hanrahan said...

Ginny, this is clearly not an example of the media editing for attention-getting purposes. You clearly state "every title that was in the Young Adult zone was a pro-homosexual theme." If you misspoke and meant to say in the "Out of the Closet" category, than own up to your mistake, don't try to blame it on editing.

Even if you make the correction and say all of the titles in the Out of the Closet category are pro-homosexual, how do you know this? Have you read these titles? Many are works of fiction, pure storytelling, which does not "promote" an idea or belief system. I am a fan of murder mysteries and thrillers. Reading about murder does not influence me to become a murderer or "promote" murder!

A couple of the quotes you referenced in your post seemed to be attributed to me, but were not my statements. Please do not misquote me.

You continue to choose to ignore the basic question I have posted throughout your blog posts; what gives you the right to decide for the community what is inappropriate or explicit? What makes you the expert? And why cannot parents that feel this way about these materials take the appropriate action; monitor their children's use of the Internet and visit the library with them to keep tabs on what materials they are looking into?

And you ignored my other question; will you demand that book stores remove or restrict titles you deem inappropriate? Because children visit bookstores, too. You say you are not about removing books but adding a balance----have you donated any of the titles that you feel would present a balance to the library??? I think not.

Thanks for continuing the dialogue.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Maria, I will answer one more time, then you will have to bring your comments to the meeting and voice them to the library board. This is long and tiresome, and we must obviously agree to disagree.

You stated "If you misspoke and meant to say in the "Out of the Closet" category, than own up to your mistake, don't try to blame it on editing." Can't say that I misspoke. I did many interviews and that one, in particular, was nearly half an hour long. I am not convinced I was not edited, as much that I DID say WAS edited. Some very informative information, as a matter of fact, was edited out. But hey, that's what sells media. If, however, it gave the wrong impression, then I certainly do apologize.

You stated "Reading about murder does not influence me to become a murderer or "promote" murder!" Perhaps not "you, per se, but the written word/media is definitely influential. I cannot agree with you on that.

You DID NOT say "I am all for balance in a public library collection; but, you don't gain balance by removing items that you might not agree with."

AND

You DID NOT say "It is censorship and it's a darn slippery slope, once you start down that road."

Those statements were from some anonymous person. My apologies. You were right to point that out to me.

You DID say "what gives you the right to decide for the community what is inappropriate or explicit? What makes you the expert?"

I have not claimed to be an "expert" on anything. Actually, far from it! But the law clearly states that pornography is off limits for children. So is the law wrong? Is Bob Bonenfant and the listeners who called in to his show wrong? Are they experts, too?

Of COURSE parents should be monitoring their children's books. Does the library have the authority to empower the parents/taxpayers who support them? You bet they do. And we expect it, too.

"will you demand that book stores remove or restrict titles you deem inappropriate? Because children visit bookstores, too."

Actually, Maria, book stores cannot sell pornography to children. That is the law. I don't need to take any action there.


"....have you donated any of the titles that you feel would present a balance to the library??? I think not."

Really? How do you know this? You are, actually, incorrect.

I offered many, many titles for the librarians to review and consider. I also offered to purchase some and raise funds for more if they would like.

Agreeing to disagree.

Maria Hanrahan said...

Yes, but you are calling certain titles pornography, but that label is based on YOUR opinion.

"American courts have not yet settled on a satisfactory definition of what constitutes pornographic material." The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literary, Third Edition, copyright 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company, as referenced on dictionary.com. Most definitions of the term say pornography is "designed to excite sexual impulses" or a similar statement. The two titles you have demanded be removed to an adult section are works of fiction, correct? Fiction : "the class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, esp. in prose form" as defined on dictionary.com. Fiction is storytelling. Not enticing, not corrupting, not promoting, just fiction.

You say book stores cannot sell pornography to children. I am almost 100% certain that these two book titles are available for purchase in area bookstores and large mass merchandisers like Target or Walmart. If a young person were to take this book to the cashier, you can bet that they would not be questioned or stopped, because they are not pornography. You label them as such, but that is merely YOUR opinion.

Call Me Mom said...

Ginny and Mariah,

I think you are not communicating on one of the points in your discussion.

Mariah, Ginny is not advocating removing those books she finds to contain pornographic material(as defined by Wisconsin statutes) from the library entirely, she is advocating that they be removed from the young adult section and put into the adult section.

In my opinion,it is entirely inappropriate to have pornographic material in a section of the library that is targeted to children.
In the eyes of the law, it may be illegal to have such books in a section targeted to children. Ginny is doing her civic duty as well as her parental duty.

As for your statement "What gives you the right to judge library materials as "perverse and pornographic" and demand that they be removed? You do not have that right."

As a parent, she does, as a citizen she does, as an individual, she does, just as you or I do. Our demands that something be removed from public display because we find it offensive may not be respected, but we all have the right to make our opinions heard. I find it a little bit outrageous and a large bit dangerous that our current culture attempts to demonize anyone who expresses a strong opinion that is not politically correct. Dissent is necessary for a free and independent people to maintain their freedom.

Maria Hanrahan said...

To Call Me Mom:

By asking "What gives you (Ginny) the right to judge library materials as "perverse and pornographic" and demand that they be removed? You do not have that right", I meant that Ginny does not have the right to declare for the entire community what is perverse or pornographic and what isn't. If I declare a romance novel as perverse or pornographic, does that mean it definitively is, and that it should be removed or reclassified?

The American Library Association (ALA), in the Library Bill of Rights, states that "materials should not be proscribed (denounced or condemned, or banished/exiled) or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval." I believe it may be unlawful to try to reclassify books as adult books if they are already classified as juvenile or young adult books. Even if the two books Ginny finds so offensive were moved to the adult section, according to the ALA "Denying minors equal and equitable access to all library resources available to users violates the Library Bill of Rights. Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents-and only parents-have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children-and only their children-to library resources." This information is from the same Library Bill of Rights that Ginny posts links for here in her blog.) This statement means that libraries and governments cannot restrict the access of these materials to children.....only parents can. And parents can only restrict the access of their children, not other people's children. Even if the books were moved, it would not prevent children from being able to access them.

As for "attempts to demonize anyone who expresses a strong opinion that is not politically correct," certainly my exchanges with Ginny cannot be construed as demonization. I have not made any disparaging remarks about Ginny's (or anyone else's) character or actions. I have merely pointed out the reasons why I think her complaint to the library board has no merit.

Supporters of Ginny's complaint say that these books are pornographic, but if that is the case, why are they cataloged by the Library of Congress and hundreds of libraries around the world? Why are they stocked in the teen and young adult sections of book stores, where they can be purchased by anyone, of any age, without question? Why are they classified as "Young Adult" and stocked by Amazon.com and scores of other reputable retailers?

Call Me Mom said...

Mariah,

You are quite correct to say that one person may not define what is or is not pornographic or perverse for an entire community. That does not remove an individual's right to express their opinion or to influence the opinion of others or to gather the community to examine the material and decide within itself if certain material is pornographic or not.

The American Library Association (ALA), in the Library Bill of Rights, states that "materials should not be proscribed (denounced or condemned, or banished/exiled) or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval."
The American Library Association can state whatever it likes. The last time I checked, the statements of the ALA do not have the force of law and libraries are just as subject to local, state and national laws as the rest of us.

"I believe it may be unlawful to try to reclassify books as adult books if they are already classified as juvenile or young adult books. " Are you really trying to say that re-examining a piece of literature to be sure it was correctly classified is against the law? Could you show me the statute, because that just sounds ridiculous to me.

"according to the ALA "Denying minors equal and equitable access to all library resources available to users violates the Library Bill of Rights."
Once again, the ALA is not the law making body of the state of Wisconsin or the United States of America.

"if that is the case, why are they cataloged by the Library of Congress and hundreds of libraries around the world?" Maybe because it is the job of the library of congress to catalogue books? (I'll assume you meant that the library of congress catalogues them as young adult. Why are they stocked in the teen and young adult sections of book stores, where they can be purchased by anyone, of any age, without question? Why are they classified as "Young Adult" and stocked by Amazon.com and scores of other reputable retailers?"
Perhaps it is because no one has bothered to read them to screen for content other than those with a political and social agenda to promote homosexuality. Or maybe it's because the young adult classification refers to the level of vocabulary as assessed by the publisher of the book, or any number of other possible reasons.

I don't think, as a parent, that I would look twice at a book with the rather innocuous title of "The Geography Club" if my child brought it home from the library. I would probably assume it was the equivalent of the Nancy Drew type books that were in the young adult section of my library as a child. I certainly would not think it contained the quotes Ginny so helpfully provided.

Simply because a lot of people do the wrong thing does not make it any less wrong. It is the duty of parents and citizens to uphold standards of proper behavior as well as the laws of their communities. One of the ways they do that is by examining those institutions that provide resources for their children's use and setting standards with the cooperation of those institutions. Children are protected by the law because they are not capable of making informed decisions. Yes, it is a parent's job to screen their children's reading material. That is what Ginny has done. When she found material that she thought was objectionable and that she surmised would be objectionable to the majority of her community's parents, she brought it to their attention-as any responsible citizen would do. The fact that other parents also are finding this material to be objectionable proves her surmise to have been true. What needs to happen next is that the community needs to cooperate to set standards and implement any changes that need to be made to represent the standards of their community. It appears to me that this is what is happening. Yay, America!

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

This is, amusingly, what I tell my teenagers we call "dissecting sentences."

Let me explain, Maria.

"I meant that Ginny does not have the right to declare for the entire community what is perverse or pornographic..."

You are right, Maria, and I didn't declare anything for the "entire" community. I represent a group of over 500 parents and, by the appearances of the unscientific, yet tale-telling poll on WBKV, the larger portion of our community.


".....Library Bill of Rights, states that "materials should not be proscribed (denounced or condemned, or banished/exiled) or removed...."

There still seems to be misunderstanding here, Maria. I did not say anyone should ban or burn or throw out any books. Move them, yes. Perhaps even label with a warning, such as on music CDs or PS2 games. Now there's a novel idea!


"....certainly my exchanges with Ginny cannot be construed as demonization. I have not made any disparaging remarks about Ginny's (or anyone else's) character or actions."

And I must give you credit for carrying on a wholesome debate and respectful conversation. I appreciate dialogue of this nature. Not the name-calling, rude dissenters who have no meat to their conversations. Thank you. :-)

"....but if that is the case, why are they cataloged by the Library of Congress and hundreds of libraries around the world? Why are they stocked in the teen and young adult sections of book stores, where they can be purchased by anyone, of any age, without question? Why are they classified as "Young Adult" and stocked by Amazon.com and scores of other reputable retailers?"

Two wrongs don't make a right. So if something is classified as young adult or teen, does that make it so? I think not. Seriously, Maria, you cannot tell me that you think reading sex acts with the full graphic details is something you feel is appropriate for children. Let's be reasonable about this.

Call Me Mom said...

And to address your earlier post, Mariah

Are you really attempting to say that fiction cannot be""designed to excite sexual impulses"?
If so, I don't think we can continue to have a reasonable discussion because that is outside the bounds of common sense, unless I have misunderstood your statement.

"If a young person were to take this book to the cashier, you can bet that they would not be questioned or stopped, because they are not pornography."

It may be because, as you so kindly pointed out, they have been classified as young adult and therefore, in the minds of the cashiers, should be entirely appropriate for young readers.

What Ginny is saying is that she does not agree that they are appropriate for young readers and that, in her opinion, they should be re-examined to see if they are violating WI laws. She further argues that, even if they are found not to be violating WI laws, as a parent, she wants them re-classified and moved to the adult section. She has brought these books to the attention of her community and many other members of her community seem to agree with her. Her actions are entirely appropriate and a fine example of good citizenship to boot.

"You label them as such, but that is merely YOUR opinion." It is her opinion and she is entitled to it. She is entitled to act on it. Just as the opposite appears to be your opinion and you have the same freedom to act on your opinion.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

When you do Monday's show, Maria, make sure you copy and paste the Wisconsin State Statutes and the ALA policies I have on this blog so you can be prepared to answer as to why the library is above the law, can provide porn to our kids if they want to, and don't have to follow their own policies regarding provision on the broadest spectrum of material on a subject as possible. All very important talk points.

Maria Hanrahan said...

As others have said, this is quite the slippery slope. Yes, you believe some of this material is pornographic. Yes, you are most certainly entitled to express your opinion and act in a way you feel will protect your children. But my point about the Library of Congress, and bookstores and Amazon.com is that they (and publishers, and other institutions and organizations concerning published materials) seem to indicate by their actions (making these books readily available to young adults) that these books are NOT porn. In my opinion, this indicates that the public/majority does not agree with you. Yes, you may have more than 500 people backing your position, but certainly that is not a majority when West Bend's population is in the 30,000 range.

What happens if these books are moved (banished and exiled) to the adult section of the library? What happens next? Does the community go after books concerning sexual education that contain graphic illustrations? I see on your blog you seem to have an issue with one. What is next, and at what point does it end? And since libraries cannot restrict youth from accessing any materials in the library that are available to other users, the only thing re-locating these books does is make it less convenient to find them (at the West Bend library, they would be moved over a few rows of shelves) and perhaps make them more enticing to young readers (the draw of the forbidden.)

"Seriously, Maria, you cannot tell me that you think reading sex acts with the full graphic details is something you feel is appropriate for children. Let's be reasonable about this."

Certainly, I don't feel reading sex acts with full graphic details is appropriate for my children. But I do not think the two main books you are concerned with are inappropriate for all children. I have not read the books in their entirety (have you?), so I cannot make a judgment. Sure, I could base my judgment on the passages you have cited in your links, but that would be unfair....it is not a true representation of the work as a whole. Do I believe these books have artistic merit? Again, I have not read them but yes, they probably do. Would I allow my children (elementary school ages) to read them? No. But do I think reading them may benefit some area teens? Yes, I do.

" Are you really trying to say that re-examining a piece of literature to be sure it was correctly classified is against the law? Could you show me the statute, because that just sounds ridiculous to me." - Call Me Mom

I don't pretend to know or practice the law, but by what standards does a piece of literature get reclassified? If these 2 books have been repeatedly classified as young adult material, by the publisher, by the Library of Congress and innumerable libraries and by thousands of booksellers throughout the world, can a small group within a community demand that they be classified as adult books in their library? Certainly there must be standards in place that determine how a book is cataloged. If those standards are not being followed in West Bend, yes, action may be warranted. But I do not think that is the case with these two titles.

"so you can be prepared to answer as to why the library is above the law, can provide porn to our kids if they want to" - Ginny

I did not say nor do I believe the library is above the law. You believe the library is providing porn to our kids by offering these books, but again, it is your OPINION that it is porn. It could possibly be the opinion of 500+ people in our community, as well. But that doesn't mean it IS porn. You could have a majority of people in attendance at the board meeting that agree with you, but that does not mean the majority of the community agrees with you.

If possible, can you post the list of titles you have suggested that the library add? I've only seen a couple of websites and 1 book posted here in your blog. I'd be interested in knowing what material you think would provide balance to the Young Adult section.

Call Me Mom said...

Having had my curiosity piqued by the discussion, I decided to try and find out how/why books are classified as Young Adult. The answer seems to be nothing more than:
"includes all works which are written for, published for, marketed to, or consumed by young adults, or books with themes that young adults might find interesting."

That's a pretty broad brush.
In fact, in my research, the author, editor and publisher all collaborate on determining genre to facilitate sales, but the author may have the last word on the subject-after all, it is their book. So, if an author has a specific political,social,environmental or etc. agenda, he or she may produce a work to influence the readers of that work to embrace their viewpoint. They may target their audience by genre.
Will most authors engage in that sort of social manipulation? Probably not. Will some? Sure, it's America and if they can find a publisher who thinks their book can sell regardless of subject matter, it will be published. Guess what? Sex sells.

Our job as citizens and parents is to determine whether or not we want this trend of categorizing explicitly sexual material as young adult to continue. I do not. Ginny does not. The state of WI has specific laws regarding the protection of our children.

"...can a small group within a community demand that they be classified as adult books in their library?" Why not? If the small group represents the interests of the larger community or if the larger community chooses to allow that small group to enforce the reclassification, there is nothing wrong with that. Those who wish to get those books from a different library that does not classify them as "adult" are free to go to a different library. They are also free to move to a different community that is more in line with their own views or to try to rally their own community to change it back if they find they disagree. That's how it works.


"You could have a majority of people in attendance at the board meeting that agree with you, but that does not mean the majority of the community agrees with you.
"
This is true, but it doesn't mean they agree with you either. They may not care, or think that the outcome is such a common sense issue that they do not have a need to participate, or they may be unaware of the issue, or any of 100 or so other variations on why they may not care to come out in public and share their opinions.

Legislators and government officials must be guided by their own principles and the wishes of their constituents/communities in their decisions. If only 2% of their constituents express an opinion, and 70% of that 2% indicate they want a change, in the absence of input from the other 98%, and any other information to influence their decision, they will assume the percentages will break down the same way and generally will act accordingly. That's how it works. That's how it should work.

SafeLibraries said...

FYI re "Deal With It":

The American Library Association highly recommends "Deal With It" for "reluctant" readers.

Likely as a result, the book was headed for hundreds of New York City public schools until... well, see for yourselves:

City's Ed. Boobs, by Carl Campanile, NY Post, 13 October 2003.

Anonymous said...

I believe the thing people seem to be missing is the fact that the library is a place for EVERY person. That means every religion, every gender, every ethnic background, and every sexual orientation. Libraries must be institutions that carry materials that speak to and interest those myriad patrons.

This means that libraries SHOULD have books with homosexual characters just as they have books with heterosexual characters. Especially in Young Adult areas (collections specifically maintained for teen patrons), as these materials are targeted to an age group that is just coming to grips with their sexual identities. No matter how small your town may be, you DO have teens that identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. By taking these titles out of the library or moving them to another area, you are effectively forcing your views upon these patrons. That is unacceptable. They have a right to read the materials that interest them just as much as you have a right to read the materials that interest you. Denying them that right is shameful, at best.

If you don't like the books on the GLBTQ list, that's fine. You have every right to not read them and refuse to have your children read them. Instead of seeing the lists of books you dislike as a rallying cry against some perceived "gay agenda", why not just see them as a list of books to PROSCRIBE from your children. Do not keep them from the teens that are interested in them or want to read materials in which they can identify. Any teen will tell you they won't read anything that doesn't speak to them, as an individual.

Someone mentioned Nancy Drew . . . not every teen is interested in that (in fact, most aren't anymore . . . sorry to say) simply because it DOES NOT speak to most of today's teens. The issues presented in those classics are not pertinent to the lives of most modern teens. Like it or not, that is the reality of the situation. Does that mean they aren't good books? Of course it doesn't! We just can't expect them to read the same books we read when we were teens. Times change and perspectives change with them.

As for the pornography stand point . . . sex is a part of everyday life for a teenager. Whether they are having it or not, it is at the forefront of their minds. If they aren't having it, they are thinking about it. To deny them access to books that might give them information to help them make INFORMATIVE decisions about sex just opens the doors for them to make ignorant and poor decisions. That said, no child or teenager should have their SOLE source of information about sex be any number of books. Those books are a great addition to that education; but, without that information being tempered by a parent, they lose a great deal of their informative power. Your child/teen's education begins and ends with YOU, the parent. We can not expect our public institutions to decide what is appropriate for our children any more than we can expect (or want) another parent to decide what is right for OUR children.

In the end, WE, the parents, are responsible for what information OUR OWN children are exposed. It is not our responsibility to shelter other parents' children from things that WE consider to be inappropriate for OUR children.

I may not agree with everything on a Young Adult shelf and I may not allow my teen to read everything on that shelf. But, I certainly don't think its appropriate to remove those materials from another teen whose parent may have different views than I just as I wouldn't think it appropriate for that parent to keep materials from MY teen because they disagree with material I do not find objectionable.

Parenting should be the right and duty of the parent. Our culture spends too much time and effort trying to force that responsibility on schools and institutions. This is a responsibility we should embrace wholeheartedly instead of farming it out to large institutions to make sweeping, generic, and unfeeling decisions that have no bearing on our philosophy as parents.

Keep the books where they are and just keep them out of YOUR children's hands. Let my kids read what I deem appropriate and what interests them!

Maria Hanrahan said...

Anonymous said "In the end, WE, the parents, are responsible for what information OUR OWN children are exposed. It is not our responsibility to shelter other parents' children from things that WE consider to be inappropriate for OUR children."

Very well put and my thoughts exactly. If I met you I'd offer to buy you a cup of coffee!

SafeLibraries said...

Then how do you explain the various laws and the various US Supreme Court cases to do just that? Shall they be tossed aside to satisfy your desire that anything goes? Are you the highest court in the land?

"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."

Call Me Mom said...

Anonymous,

I was the one who mentioned Nancy Drew. My point was not that Nancy Drew should be considered contemporary, but rather that, I, as a parent, upon seeing the title "The Geography Club" on a book my child was reading, would associate such an innocuous title with a Nancy Drew type of book. I certainly would not expect it to contain the material quoted here and would be very upset to find out that it did and was labeled young adult.

As for you statement"Anonymous said "In the end, WE, the parents, are responsible for what information OUR OWN children are exposed. It is not our responsibility to shelter other parents' children from things that WE consider to be inappropriate for OUR children."

Yes, parents do have the ultimate responsibility to determine their child's reading material, but to say that I, upon finding material that I regard as harmful to my child on the library shelf and accessible to other people's children, should say nothing is the moral equivalent of seeing a box of nails scattered on the road and not picking them up or warning cars that they are approaching a hazard. As a community, we have a responsibility to each other to have and maintain standards of behavior. If I allow harm to come to someone else's child, because it's not my place to tell Mrs. Smith down the street that her son has decided to engage in a dangerous activity, when he teasing my neighbor's dog, then I am liable for some portion of that child's injury when the dog bites him.

I believe that pre-marital sex, and homosexual sex are both extremely hazardous behaviors and this is supported by several studies. Such behavior significantly increases the risks of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Reading sexually explicit material increases the likelihood of such behaviors in and I have a duty to inform other parents that the young adult section of the library contains such materials directly upon my discovery of the fact. Believing as I do, that such materials are harmful, I also have a duty to ask the community to join me in preventing our children from having access to that material.

That is one of the ways that I, as a parent, protect my child. If you don't want that advantage in protecting your child -that is to say the sure knowledge that the young adult section of your library does not contain pornographic material - then you are free to oppose my efforts to make it that way. Once again, that's how the system works.

Anonymous said...

CMM,

The difference between a book and a box of nails or an angry dog is this: Clear and present physical danger. That is immensely different from possible danger that ideologies and situations printed in paper, safely bound, and on a shelf. You can reason with, debate, and choose to agree or disagree with an ideology. A nail piercing a foot or a dog biting an arm is NOT something that can bring about intelligent discourse and personal emotional/intellectual growth. Until books are capable of leaping off the shelves, holding a person down, and forcing them to read their contents they are innocuous things.

Books CAN be powerful and inspire change; but, you have to make the conscious effort to read them and ponder their contents before they can do anything but sit there and gather dust.

So, why don't we stick with the various ways in which information and ideologies are disseminated: the media, which is what books are after all. Why don’t we start with TV? I'm sure we can both agree that the majority of television is poorly written, intellectually void, offensive to many sensibilities, and that most big-ticket prime time shows are not really ideal fare for people under a certain age (lots of sex, drug use, murder, blood, rape, dead bodies, coarse language, and scary situations). But, it’s on the TV. We allow this stuff into our teens' lives. Why allow that and not a book? One might say that it's easy to turn off the television. Yes, but, I would argue it's much easier to simply not pick up the book.

One might argue that there are reviews and ratings for TV shows. Well, there are reviews for books as well (here's a couple you might like: Reader Views Kids and Good Clean Reads). In fact, the West Bend Library's catalog does a FANTASTIC job of putting reviews right in the entry for the book! Take a look at the entry for Paper Towns, for an example.

"But what about age-banding,” one would respond, “books don’t have that!" But, at your library, they do. If something is labeled for kids, one can assume it has been deemed appropriate for children by countless libraries, schools, and publishing houses. If it is labeled "Young Adult" or "Teen", one can assume it has been deemed appropriate for 13+ by those very same entities. Clearly you have found some books in which you don't agree with their age placement and feel they should be cataloged for a more "mature" audience. That's fine. You can choose to ignore the very plain age banding that the library does, by the very act of cataloging, just as you might ignore or supercede the TVMA rating when/if you let your child watch "Law & Order SVU" or the TV14 rating when/if you deny permission for your 16 year old to watch "Family Guy".

Now, one might argue at this point that every TV or cable box is equipped with the famous V-chip is allowed and blocks any program with specific rating or higher. That there is no such censoring apparatus in place at the public library. Well, the V-chip is something you have to make a conscious decision to use; it is NOT enabled by default. The parent must decide whether or not to use it and set it up accordingly. I would argue that we all have a v-chip in our heads and we are free to use it in regards to the books we want our children and teens to read. A simple look at the back of the book or the inside flap should give anyone an idea of the book's content and appropriateness. Yes, it may take a little more effort; but, as I'm sure I don't have to tell any of you . . . parenting IS a lifetime of work and effort distilled into every single moment of every single day. I'm sure all the super-parents commenting in and reading this blog are capable of going that extra step for their children. And just to be clear, I am NOT being sarcastic with that last comment. Everyone here has shown how much they care about their children by fighting for what they believe to be right for those very children.

So, the point of all that is this: the various tools set up for you to manage and control what ideologies, situations, and information your children and teens are exposed to through the television and radio are just as present for the books you find on the library’s Young Adult shelves. Also, those shows will not and should not be removed simply because a group of viewers feels it is inappropriate for younger viewers. If you don’t like the ideas expressed in “South Park”, you don’t watch it. It’s the same for books. You don’t like the ideas expressed in “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” then don’t read it.

Removing the books you dislike or even simply moving them will not make the situation equitable. I will concede that the library should have books on "anti-gay" or "ex-gay" subjects, as clearly there is a call for it in your community. Adding those books is what will give that collection balance. Removing books will not. Of course, the majority of "anti-gay" books are published through small independent publishers and libraries usually go through suppliers such as Brodart and Ingram which often do not carry the smaller independent publishers. However, given a portion of your community's desire for "anti-gay" material, I would hope they would find a means of acquiring some titles.

I applaud your concern for others. I really do! It is far too easy in the culture of me-first we have created to simply ignore the plight and pains of others. However, I do feel it to be simply misplaced. You say you want other parents to be aware of what is on the shelves at your library. That’s fine, acceptable, and even noble. Point out to them the various resources available to them to decide if a certain book, graphic novel, movie, manga, or music artist is appropriate for their child/teen. Let them know that the librarian who is making those purchases is one of the BEST resources to help you find books that ARE appropriate for your child/teen. The library, review sites, and the backs of books themselves are filled with tools and information to help you make informed and wise decisions regarding what you allow your teenager to read. We should be encouraging the use of those tools to encourage teens and parents to make good choices regarding their reading habits instead of trying to simply take those choices away.

-ann-ony-mouse

Call Me Mom said...

Anonymous,
You say that my analogy is flawed because one cannot reason with a dog bite or a shredded tire. My point in the analogy was that a conscientious person, informs others of the risk(or, in the case of the nails-does what they can to remove the risk) BEFORE the nail shredded tire or the dog bite occurs. One cannot argue with an STD once one has it either. There is a risk posed by allowing sexually explicit books to be shelved in a section where young adults with indifferent or uninformed parents will be given carte blanche to read them. Most parents/adults I know DO depend on the library to behave responsibly with regard to the morals and attitudes of the community which the library serves when placing children's/young adult titles on the shelves. When the library fails, both to respect the morals of the community and to notify the community that the library considers these titles to be appropriate, despite their departure from commonly accepted baselines of what a community determines is appropriate for young readers, then the community does have a right to correct and inform the library's behavior.

Your analogy using television is not a good analogy because the television is in my home. What is viewed in my home is not under the control of a librarian of television services. I do have the right to install a V-chip or to remove the television or to oversee what programs are shown on a television in my home. I do not have the authority to remove or reclassify a book from the library because the library is a community resource. The community must agree with me on what items are to be removed or re-classified.
The library, as a community resource, also has a responsibility to be responsive to the community which it serves.

If my child went to a friend's home and found a playboy magazine. I would call that parent and ask them to not have such materials available for perusal when my child is visiting their child.(I would also have second thoughts about allowing my child to be at their house.) I do not have the right to demand that they never have such a magazine in their home again, their home is their castle. If , however, my child was shown pornography by that friend's parents or under their direct supervision, I can go to the police and have them arrested because such behavior is against the law. It is against the law, because we as a community have decided that our children need to be protected from exposure to such materials, ostensibly because we regard them as, and they have been shown to be, harmful to children. We, as adults, have a collective responsibility to the children of our community, as well as a duty of citizenship, in upholding the laws of our community, to protect the children of our community in this manner. Just as I, as the parent of a household where your child might visit, have a responsibility, both to that visiting child and to their parents to provide adequate supervision and to discourage or prohibit harmful behaviors and activities from occurring at my house. The library, by holding themselves to be an open community resource, has that same level of responsibility to me and the rest of the community to safeguard our children in determining which resources to make available to the children of our community.

The librarians must choose which books to put where. This implies a level of discretion on their part. They are not simply buying all the books in the catalogue and throwing them out into the street for whomever wishes to burrow through them for whatever catches their fancy. They are choosing to put certain books in certain sections. They choose to label certain sections as appropriate for different age groups. With that choice comes responsibility. Their must be a criteria for placing those books as they do. That criteria must take into account the values of the community they serve, not just the publisher's decision about the book's ostensible genre.

As foryour statement:" one can assume it has been deemed appropriate for children by countless libraries, schools, and publishing houses. If it is labeled "Young Adult" or "Teen", one can assume it has been deemed appropriate for 13+ by those very same entities.", If I may recycle something my grandmother and mother used to say to me: "If everybody threw themselves off a cliff, would you too?" The reasoning that "everybody else is doing it" is just an excuse to refuse to take responsibility for one's own actions. And as other posts to this blog has pointed out other communities are Not in agreement with some of the books mentioned here.