Ginny v. Maria. Is their local public library hijacked or is it safe? We report and add hyperlinks, you decide and add comments below.
- "Guest View: Timeline Outlines Hijacking of Library," by Ginny Maziarka, West Bend Daily News, 19 August 2010, p.A6, reprinted below for educational purposes.
- "Guest View: Libraries Remain Free, Safe Places for Families," by Maria Hanrahan, West Bend Daily News, 26 August 2010, p.A6, reprinted below for educational purposes.
Since my guest editorial has already been published on this blog, I'll just add Hanrahan's op ed piece with Kleinman's links.
In her recent Guestview in the Daily News, Ginny Maziarka suggests "covert" activities concerning the anti-censorship response to her March 2009 book challenge. In case anyone is unclear about the details of the book challenge, Maziarka objected to lists of novels with homosexual characters and situations in the young adult section at West Bend Community Memorial Library. Over time, she rephrased her complaint to concern material she believed was sexually explicit or inappropriate for the age group. While she first called to ban or remove books, she later called for moving the books to the adult section of the library and labeling them as explicit.
Maziarka suggests that I was influenced by a "bribe," since the group that I formed to oppose her library complaint, West Bend Parents for Free Speech, was designated as the recipient of a grant from the Freedom to Read Foundation. What she failed to disclose regarding this startling bombshell was the timing of this grant. I began my involvement in the library challenge in late March of 2009, was notified of the grant about a week into May, and the public Library Board meeting in which Maziarka's complaint was addressed was held on June 2. If you do the math, you’ll note that this would have given my group maybe three weeks to go hog wild with our $1,000 "payoff." In actuality, WBPFFS supporters used their own resources to pay for expenses incurred during the challenge. Unlike Maziarka's group, West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries or their supporters, we did not choose to participate in paid newspaper or radio advertising to promote our viewpoint. Other than a reimbursement request for approximately $180 for the cost of an open records request made by another WBPFFS member, we did not utilize the FTRF grant. This ORR concerned email and other communication to and from members of theCommon Council regarding the library controversy and the pending appointments of replacement members to the Library Board.
I became involved in the library challenge because I am committed to the belief that, as a parent, I have the right to decide what reading material is appropriate for me and for my children. To suggest that I did it for remuneration or that I am a tool of the ALA is as preposterous as it is insulting. Maziarka suggests that the Library Board did not work in the best interest of families by way of their unanimous vote to keep the young adult materials unlabeled and where they are. In fact, parents retain the power they have always had: to determine if and when their children should have library cards, to decide how, when and with how much supervision those library cards should be used, and to provide guidance and ground rules for what materials are acceptable in their households.
Maziarka says the library has been "hijacked" by the ALA, as if it is a subversive organization bent on taking power away from library patrons. In fact, the American Library Association has always protected the rights of library patrons, including the Freedom to Read. The FTRF was established to promote and defend freedom of expression and the right to read and listen to the ideas of others. I believe that reading is among our greatest freedoms, and will continue to be vocal and vigilant about protecting that freedom. I appreciate the work of the Freedom to Read Foundation, which helps to protect my right to read freely. I hope Maziarka appreciates that this "hijacking" group works every day to protect her right to read freely as well.
Maria Hanrahan is a resident of the city of West Bend, founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech and co-president of Friends of the West Bend Library.