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

Monday, May 18, 2009

West Bend City Council refuses to budge on library issue

The motion to rescind the vote brought forth by Alderman Nick Dobberstein was soundly rejected by the City Council this evening.

Alderman Dobberstein began the request by listing off the attributes of the board members, i.e., attendance at meetings, advocation, supervision and evaluation of the library director. Asking for questions or discussion from the other aldermen, Dobberstein was met with silence.

Alderman Lindbeck, citing personal reasons, stated he would not be voting this evening and abstained. Dobberstein questioned the abstention, asking the city attorney if this move was only used for those with a conflict of interest. The city attorney affirmed that the choice to abstain may be made for any reason at any time.

Alderman Dobberstein asked to speak further, making a list of other attributes of the four library board members in question. He made mention of their familiarity of intellectual freedom, their experience, their advanced degrees, their diligence and committment to reading books that we are currently questioning and the fact that they are just "good people."

Alderman Schlotfeldt made mention directly to Dobberstein of an earlier telephone conversation that he would not reiterate publicly.

Dobberstein asked the City Council members what he could do to get the library board reinstated. There was no response from the City Council.

The call to question the rescind was brought forward by Alderman Dobberstein.
Seconded by Alderman Kist.

A vote was taken to rescind:

All voted NO, except for Alderman Kist and Alderman Dobberstein.

A firm stand by the leaders of our community who truly know the people they serve.

29 comments:

gardening girl said...

I really appreciate city council members who stand on principle. A heartfelt thank you to all who voted NO to rescind. Now the city can get down to the business of protecting kids and making the library a safe place for them just as we expect them to keep our parks safe and our streets safe for the younger generation.

Scotty B said...

You people are complete wackos. I served this Country, and will NOT tolerate anyone's rights to be taken away. It is a Free Speech issue! Just like the right to bear arms. Are there gun books in that section of the library? Maybe we should get rid of those too? Anyone ever hear of Columbine? Young Adults shouldn't read about the dangers of guns, right? Where do you draw the line people? If these books are moved, then I WILL make sure the gun books are too. How bout that?

Aurick said...

Scotty, as much as I appreciate your right to say what you have, I would like to mention that you may want to do a bit of research on this topic before you make such a brazen comment. As someone else whom has served in the military I also see value in the freedoms of speech. Unfortunatly this situation has very little to do with this freedom unless you look at it from a very distorted and twisted lense.

I simply do not understand how anyone can reconcile the "right" for these books to be placed in the library that very explicatly describe, in detail, any form of sexual acts. In all actuality, the heterosexual situations mentioned in these questionable books are far more graphic in nature than the homosexual ones.

I am curious where you draw your conclusions of Columbine and having a knowledge of the dangers of guns with removing books that make explicit references to various forms of sexual intercourse.

Do some research, and back your comments with facts please.

Aurick said...

Scotty, as much as I appreciate your right to say what you have, I would like to mention that you may want to do a bit of research on this topic before you make such a brazen comment. As someone else whom has served in the military I also see value in the freedoms of speech. Unfortunatly this situation has very little to do with this freedom unless you look at it from a very distorted and twisted lense.

I simply do not understand how anyone can reconcile the "right" for these books to be placed in the library that very explicatly describe, in detail, any form of sexual acts. In all actuality, the heterosexual situations mentioned in these questionable books are far more graphic in nature than the homosexual ones.

I am curious where you draw your conclusions of Columbine and having a knowledge of the dangers of guns with removing books that make explicit references to various forms of sexual intercourse.

Do some research, and back your comments with facts please.

booksupporter said...

Unbelievable! Most library boards are directly elected, not appointed by town councils that can be stampeded by a minority of loud opinions. Don't be surprised to hear of boycotts of your town by library supporters.

SafeLibraries said...

Scotty B said, "If these books are moved, then I WILL make sure the gun books are too. How bout that?"

Here, Scotty B, this will help you: http://delicious.com/plan2succeed/LibraryDisclosesPrivatePatronInfo

Mike said...

Truth be told the common council has no political courage and wilted in the face of a few vocal protestors.

It is well understood, in West Bend, that when Ginny and Mary Wiegand (aka. gardening girl) support you, you are in the minority.

It just keeps getting sadder and sadder to be a resident of West Bend.

Aurick said...

Mike -

I'm curious about how much you know about this situation. I've been doing some side research on this topic for curiosities sake and have been presenting the current factual situation before a diverse group of people (many times coworkers) and asked them what their views were.

Though there has been a couple who supported the library board on this issue, the vast majority regardless of religious orientation agreed that at the very least these books should receive some form of warning sticker and placed in the adult section of the library, which to my knowledge is all that is being asked for at this time.

Quoting one person I asked, when I mentioned that this movement was being headed by a Christian Fundamentalist, they said frankly "This is not even a religious situation. This is a common sense situation."

It appears to me that many of the people supporting the stance of keeping the book situation as-is, is either uninformed of the full situation at hand (Typically leaning on an argument based off of homophobia which is not the case, or accusing of censorship, which is also not the case) Or by this point are arguing simply for the sake of arguement.

Perhaps a couple have jumped on the bandwagon simply because they smelled an opportunity to oppose some "Crazy Christians"

To be as equally frank with you, I dont fully support the way this situation has been handled. There has been a lack of self control and perfessionalism on both side of the equation, but I dont need to work very hard to at the very least, find merit in Ginny's concerns.

I would encourage anyone who reads or comments on this blog to mention specific things that they disagree on in this library request, perhaps if we start clearing the air a little bit and get rid of these rediculous unfounded accusations, we may actually find a bit more unity in the West Bend community.

Concerned West Bend Citizen said...

Regardless of what you think of the outcome, the way certain council members acted at last night's meeting was irresponsible. Details here.

SafeLibraries said...

Aurick, you hit the nail on the head.

Rico Suave said...

Aurick...must you be so condescending when sharing your opinions with someone who doesn't view the world like you do, like Scotty B? Your condescension and wordsmithing abilities are essentially techniques used to quell "freedoms" of speech and thought. Your "do some research" comment to Scotty B is "intellectual bullying" at its finest. (Incidently, my research has noted that sexual intercourse actually creates life, while the guns of Columbine took life away.)
Also, your citing "various forms of sexual intercourse" in comparison to Columbine takes a less than serious view of a very tragic event in our history.

Many people prefer to ban books based upon their own parochial interests...guns, witchcraft, rock music, non-Christian World religions, et al...Maybe the only solution is to have an annual West Bend Book Banning Day in all the West Bends of the United States, where each citizen has the right to ban a book of their choice and replace it with a book that is "more worthy." The day would be a "celebration" of our freedoms and would be culminated with a book-burning bonfire. What a celebration of solidarity and Freedom of Speech that would be!

Banning books... happens in Muslim Theocracies, favored by world leaders of the past including Chairman Mao Tse Tung, Saddam Hussein, and Adolf Hitler, and immortalized by those wonderful Pilgrims, of all people. This is nothing new, and the arguments on both sides are ALWAYS compelling.

Scotty B said...

what? nobody has a comment for rico suave? maybe he really is rico suave? aurick, your suddenly silent! suave, you are a smooth dude! it shows me that there really are some people with brains in West Bend. here i thought i was living amongst the people of waco texas. ooops, another tragedy i shouldn't take so lightly. were there guns there too? maybe i should do some research.

Aurick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aurick said...

(Note: Sorry, though I don't claim to have perfect grammar, I did want to fix one quick oversight I made. Thats why I deleted the previous post)

Less "suddenly silent" and more "spending time with my family." I appreciate your concern for my wellbeing though :)

Rico-
And I dig the name, haven’t thought about that guy in ages!

I must admit that my comment can be taken in a condescending tone, though that is not the true intent behind the comment. Unfortunately when the necessary statement is frankly "You're ignorant, research the topic" then is very difficult to be seen as anything other than condescending. Fortunately for me logic dictates that my textual tone and connotative language usage does not make my points any less accurate.

The thing that almost bothers me more than the library issue by itself, is the willingness that some are to spout out regurgitated information that their friends told them, or that they may have seen in a not-entirely-accurate blog or newspaper article. Many of the people arguing over this topic are pointing fingers and making cutting remarks over things that are simply not even on the table.

In my day, this was called ignorance, and when people made ignorant comments they were typically ignored instead of supported. Whatever happened to the adage "It is better to be silent and to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt?" The American First Amendment provides freedom of speech, but it does not entail freedom of magically plausible ignorance.

At this moment, no one is asking for any books to be banned. They are asking that they be put on a different shelf in the same library and maybe having a sticker put on the cover.

I’m fairly certain Chairman Mao, Hitler, and Saddam never really made that argument.

beingdrowned said...

At this moment, no one is asking for any books to be banned. They are asking that they be put on a different shelf in the same library and maybe having a sticker put on the cover.Is that really it? Because while that's not what I would choose, it's not that bad. I was under the impression that theys also wanted to require "parental permission" to check out these books, and THAT'S the real problem. I don't want a teenager who needs these books to be prevented from checking them out because their parents are unreasonable (or because they can't talk to their parents, or because their parents simply aren't available).

Aurick said...

I believe that is all that is being requested, yes. I may be off on a bit. Consider this though.

Last I checked, a student cannot even rent a movie from Blockbuster unless they are either 16 and sign up for their own card, or their parents specifically and knowingly give them noted permission on their account and the student is in possession of the membership card.

I see no problem with requiring parental permission to check out library materials that may have its age appropriateness questioned.

Remembering the imagination I had as a middle schooler, having sex acts described in a book is not too different from peeking at a skin mag. It may happen from time to time but that doesn’t mean that we should help the process along.

Buzymom said...

Aurick- in a way, it is similar at the library. A person under 18 cannot get their own library card to check out books on their own unless the parent is there with them and signs their permission.

Ginny- Can you please clarify if as part of your policies you would require parental permission (beyond the permission to let the child have their own library card) to check out the books if they were reclassified as adult. This has been unclear to me.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Buzy,

Certainly! To clarify, these are not "my" policies, but they are requests being made by local parents/taxpayers as a community. I have stated before that we are open to dialoguing with our local library as to how to implement the requests. Certainly we will not be unreasonable as to software costs or any other necessary financial burden that may be placed on our library. We wish to be helpful, and we desire to work together. Since our librarians are trained professionals, we would hope they would consider using their time wisely investigating possible solutions, instead of baking cookies for a book-banning picnic, or passing on sexually-explicit book lists to families, encouraging them to put these books into their children's hands as they participate in a protest against their community. Of course, since we are giving them the benefit of the doubt, anticipating they would surely not openly take part and take sides against their local community and it's children, we have every confidence in believing there is solution to each request. Our library has already implemented parental consent stickers for computer usage; likewise, a one-time PA or "parental advisory" sticker would be sufficient, unless our librarians have a more efficient or, perhaps, newer and more innovative way to assist parents. We are very open to their thoughts and ideas.

Aurick said...

Really the best way to handle this situation is with two simple categories.

Category 1: If a child is 17 or under they are normally allowed to check out books under their parents name and account only if authorized by their parents. Age appropriate material cannot be checked out by a minor under this circumstance without specific parental approval.

Category 2: Anyone 18 and older can check out whatever they want. Adults are allowed to do that. A parent can sign a waiver to allow their underage child to have their own library card (account) as though they are an adult. With this concession the parent is also "consenting" to letting their child to check out whatever they want.

These two options would really clear up this situation. If a parent trusts their kids to check out appropriate materials, than they can authorize them for their own account. If they want to protect their children, than the child can wait until their 18 and until then can still check out materials under their parents account.

Problem solved?

Buzymom said...

Aurick-
That is already essentially the system in place. If a parent doesn't want the child to check out books w/o their permission or w/o parent being there, they can choose not to issue the child a library card. Or take the library card away. The child could still check out books with parent's card when parent is there, like your category 1.
When a child under 18 has their own library card, the parent is essentially signing a waiver that the child can check out what materials they want. Parent takes responsibility for making sure fines are paid, books returned, etc.

Or did you mean under Category 1 that child has their parent's library card, parent is not there and they then are allowed to check out books only from say the juvenile section or young adult section? Of course a parent would then need to realize that this would prevent a teen from checking out plenty of appropriate adult labelled books as well, such as non-fiction books for a research project or classic fiction literature labelled adult. For that not to be an issue, the library would have to label any books that might have sexual content in the adult section, not just books that got moved from YA. Think about what that would entail from a practical and financial standpoint, as well as how exactly you define "explicit" or "sexual content".

Alternatively, instead of all the labelling and moving, I think it's just easier for the parent who doesn't trust their kid (or who wants to monitor book content) to have the kid use the parents library card and just go with them. Or the kid can place a hold on books from searching the catalog online (either from home or library- all they need is parents card number) and parent can come at their convenience to check out the books placed on hold.

Ginny- the "PA" sticker, are you talking about on the library card? Or on books? And if you mean on the card, would it be at parent discretion whether or not to use the sticker? (Correct me if I"m wrong, but I believe the computer usage policy is mandatory, all children need an adult to sign the form each time they use the internet). then if a sticker was on the kid's card, a child would need an adult with them to check out books from the adult section?

Buzymom said...

Another thing I forgot to mention, is that if a parent allows their child to get their own card and use the library independently, under the current system they can still monitor after the fact what the teen checks out. On the library website, you can go under "my account", put in the library card number and it will display what has been checked out.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Oops, Buzy. Missed that. Sorry.

No time for commentary now. Birthday celebration at my house...

Aurick said...

Buzy-

What you initially mentioned is, I feel, a fairly acceptable system of checks and balances.

I can see the wisdom in not wanting to outright deny an underage student appropriate material that is not specifically categorized as "children" or "YA"

I can also understand the frustrations of having to implement a system where one has to define the specific line of when things become "too much" for an underage student (kissing? tongue-kissing? heavy petting?) and do not think that it should necessarily be the answer either.

Therefore I would have to concede that the current library system is in all realty, a pretty good one, and stand by the comment I had been making since I first posted in this blog earlier this week.

All that I think should be done in this situation is remove the questionable content from the YA shelf and categorize them as adult. Placing a sticker on them would be great from my view but I could see this being a process that could take some time, money, arguments, and a ton of opportunity costs.

In my opinion it really is a shame that we even need to dance around these situations in the first place, meaning that there is so much of this content so readily available in the library that it really could take that much work to "sterilize" (bleh for blandness) our library.

My main point of contention in this entire situation really centers on the fact that these materials are openly advertised to our youth, which is a kink in the hose of common sense and good morals.

SafeLibraries said...

Aurick has hit on a key point:

"In my opinion it really is a shame that we even need to dance around these situations in the first place, meaning that there is so much of this content so readily available in the library that it really could take that much work to 'sterilize' (bleh for blandness) our library.

"My main point of contention in this entire situation really centers on the fact that these materials are openly advertised to our youth, which is a kink in the hose of common sense and good morals."

Exactly. Aurick is spot on.

The ALA claims children should be left to making decisions for themselves, but what is rarely heard is what Aurick points out. And that is that the pool of material from which children may choose, supposedly without adult intervention, is intentionally seeded with a large percentage of totally inappropriate material. The ALA actually encourages/rewards authors for writing such material.

Yes, children should choose for themselves, but when the pool is intentionally seeded with inappropriate material, parents are forced to act to clean up after the ALA.

This is not merely a conservative issue. Even flaming liberals oppose the downward spiral in children's literature. From: "Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things," by Naomi Wolfe, New York Time, 12 March 2006:

[Quote will appear in next comment to sidestep blog comment space limitations.]

For more on this and on Naomi Wolf's article, see "Page Burners: Sex and the Teenage Girl; What Goes On Between the Covers Is Now What Goes On Between the Covers of New Fiction Aimed at Young Adults," by Tania Padgett, Newsday, 4 Apr 2006.

SafeLibraries said...

Here's that Naomi Wolfe quote:

These books look cute. They come in matched paperback sets with catchy titles, and stay for weeks on the children's books best-seller list. .... Yet if [a] parent opened one, he or she might be in for a surprise. The "Gossip Girl," "A-List" and "Clique" series — the most successful in a crowded field of Au Pairs, It Girls and other copycat series — represent a new kind of young adult fiction, and feature a different kind of heroine. In these novels, which have dominated the field of popular girls' fiction in recent years, Carol Gilligan's question about whether girls can have "a different voice" has been answered — in a scary way.

[S]ex saturates the "Gossip Girl" books, by Cecily von Ziegesar, which are about 17- and 18-year-old private school girls in Manhattan. This is not the frank sexual exploration found in a Judy Blume novel, but teenage sexuality via Juicy Couture, blasé and entirely commodified. In "Nothing Can Keep Us Together," Nate has sex with Serena in a Bergdorf's dressing room: "Nate was practically bursting as he followed Serena. . . . He grabbed her camisole and yanked it away from her body, ripping it entirely in half. . . . 'Remember when we were in the tub at my house, the summer before 10th grade?' . . . 'Yes!' 'Oh, yes!' . . . Nate began to cry as soon as it was over. The Viagra had worn off just in time."

The "A-List" novels, by Zoey Dean ..., are spinoffs of the "Gossip Girl" series. Now we're on the West Coast, among a group of seniors from Beverly Hills High. Here is Anna, in Las Vegas for the weekend with her posse: "Was there any bliss quite like the first five minutes in a hot tub? Well, yes, actually. Ben. Sex with Ben had been that kind of bliss. . . . Would sex with Scott offer that kind of bliss?" Her best friend, Cyn, also has feelings for Scott: "She'd shed a lot of her usual wild-child ways as soon as they'd hooked up. No more stealing guys with wedding rings away from their wives just because she could. . . . No more getting wasted at parties and dirty dancing with handsome waiters . . . . No more taking E," or ecstasy, at nightclubs.

But anything can get old eventually. Cyn offers Anna this world-weary romantic guidance: "We used to jump each other, like, three times a night. When we went out to the movies, we'd sit by a wall and do it during the boring parts." She recommends "semi-sex" — not oral sex, because "that is so over" — behind a statue at MoMA. ....

And while the tacky sex scenes in them are annoying, they aren't really the problem. The problem is a value system in which meanness rules, parents check out, conformity is everything and stressed-out adult values are presumed to be meaningful to teenagers. The books have a kitsch quality — they package corruption with a cute overlay. ....

The great reads of adolescence have classically been critiques of the corrupt or banal adult world. It's sad if the point of reading for many girls now is no longer to take the adult world apart but to squeeze into it all the more compliantly. Sex and shopping take their places on a barren stage, as though, even for teenagers, these are the only dramas left.

Scotty B said...

mr aurick. while personally i have not seen these books, my point is this. where do you draw the line? if you pull these books, what's next? i am not a gun owner, nor do i have a problem with guns. to draw some attention to this "freedom of speech" issue, i would suggest we remove all gun books from the YA section as well. columbine just had it's 10 year anniversary. sex is a part of the human life! as you know, it is how one is brought into the world. which sexual position is used, is anyone's guess and each individual's business.

as for columbine, well, YA's and guns don't mix. and if one's head is messed up, well look what happened. the only reason i bring that up, is that banning gun books in the YA section would create a big stir in this town. most people seem to love their guns here in west bend. i know for a fact there are gun books in YA section. this past weekend i happened to meet a person who works in the YA section of the west bend library and specifically asked her that question. she told me yes there were gun books there.

aurick, all i am saying is that if these books are banned, place somewhere else, or whatever ginny is seeking, where do you draw the line? everyone has different beliefs, and i find it hard to believe these books contain porn. some people may see the word "penis" and call it porn. it's all how you take it as far as i'm concerned. again, i have NOT seen these books, but i am planning on going to the library friday eve to take a look. yes i know there is a big gathering planned as well. all i ask is that you think seriously about the gun book issue i have mentioned. some may be offeneded by Christian books, if their religion is Muslim, or Buddhism, or whatever. everyone has their own beliefs, and last i checked we live in America, Land of the Free!

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Scotty, I appreciate your desire to look into some of the books that were formerly challenged. If you go to www.librarypatrons.org , you can find many, many excerpts to view before then to get an idea of what you may be looking at. It is best to investigate and read, then make your decision based on solid information instead of what others are informing, or misinforming, you of. I applaud your sincere effort to think it through.

Scotty B said...

i will NOT go to a website to check things out. i will check out the actual books. i don't want to read something that someone may put their own spin on. this website seems to distort the truth about many other topics, and is anti-Obama. I don't recall the liberals/democrats turning on President Bush so early in his tenure. As a matter of fact the country was in favor of him until he invaded Iraq. Not so with Obama, who is only trying to clean up the mess that was left to him. so i will look at some of the actual material before i look at a website. i thank you for the link though.

West Bend Citizen Advocate said...

Very appropriate, Scott. Thanks for investigating!