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

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

West Bend Library Thumbs Nose at Taxpayers

Since filing a formal letter of complaint with our library and its board members, we (my husband and I) have been asked to follow the library's "three-step policy", which is to a.) meet with the YA Zone librarian, Kristin Pekoll, b.) meet with the library director, Michael Tyree, then, c.) if no agreement can be reached through either of these steps, meet with the library board. Note that before filing the formal complaint with our library, we did call the vice president of the library board, Tom Fink. This gentleman was not aware of any homosexual books or books with explicit sex acts in them. (He did not feel anyone else on the board had knowledge of this issue, either, though we did not validate this.)

We also met with the City Mayor, Kristine Deiss, who appoints the library board. She was unaware of the book issue and was not willing to intervene. Nice.

My husband and I had our first meeting with the young adult librarian, Kristin Pekoll, last night (February 23). The results of that meeting are as follows:

We began with the content of our complaint letter. Mrs. Pekoll told us it is not the library's position to make "value judgements." It was Mrs. Pekoll's intention to ignore the complaint letter and go down the list of books that we had sent and defend each choice. She had each book on a rack in our meeting room, along with stacks of ALA (American Library Association) review magazines and such with bookmarks in them. We explained that our complaint was a general complaint, not an individual book complaint. She did not want to discuss the general concept of homosexual books for youth, but we forged on regardless.

We read an excerpt from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." This book has a heterosexual oral sex act in very graphic detail. Later on in the book there is a homosexual male-to-male sex act as well, all in detail. We asked Mrs. Pekoll if she felt this was appropriate reading material for an 11-year-old child. Her answer, again, was that she could not make "value judgements" and that this was simply "our opinion." We heard this over and over again.

The library's policy states that they will "represent the best available [materials] to meet the community's needs and interests". We asked Mrs. Pekoll what criteria she used to make the determination of West Bends "needs and interests." Her response was "I talk with the kids a lot. They tell me what they want to read." We confirmed with her that she, indeed, makes her book selections based on what children tell her, nothing more. We asked her how she knows that this is representative of our community. She could not answer. She stated, as well, that even if 95% of the community came forward (as my husband posed this question to her), she would still have to serve the other 5%. We then asked Mrs. Pekoll about her representation of the taxpayers, those who support our local library. Children do not pay taxes, so obviously their requests and desires do not trump the taxpayers. She stood firm on serving the "other 5%."

My husband compared movie ratings to book contents, explaining that our society already had standards in place regarding sexual, violent and language content. Mrs. Pekoll said that those were privately owned institutions, not comparable to the West Bend Library. We made several reasonable requests:

1. That the West Bend Public Library attain — at the very minimum — balance in the selections that the libraries carry on the homosexual issue in the YA Zone. There is no logical or common-sense reason why taxpayer-funded public libraries should make available every latest “gay”-affirming book — including those designed to open up young minds to the false and dangerous notion that homosexuality is normal — while NOT carrying faith-based and ex-”gay” books that oppose a pro-homosexual ideology. REQUEST DENIED.
2. 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.
We requested that any youth web pages referring to topics of a sexual nature, i.e., “Out of the Closet” be removed, or at the very least, password-protected, only accessible with parental authority, such as the practice in place for use of the library computers. REQUEST DENIED.

1. Our YA Zone librarian is censoring books for our young adults according to her personal belief system, as there are no oppositional, i.e., ex-gay, faith-based materials in the YA Zone. We feel such propaganda and indoctrination of our local youth is inappropriate and unwanted.
2. Our rights as parents have been infringed upon by placing sexually explicit material in the youth section of our library, allowing any child of any age to explore the offensive contents and/or check out the books and take them home unknowingly.
3. Our library is violating their own policy by refusing to give the community what it desires, allowing children to choose, and ignoring the taxpayers who support the library and pay the salaries of the librarians.
4. We offered a list of oppositional books, complete with ISBN numbers (see attachment), yet Mrs. Pekoll rejected our list stating that all but one were acceptable choices as they did not have "professional reviews." (Even though these books were recommended by Americans for Truth About Homosexuality). She could not provide a policy that requires such criteria. Again, this is an unsubstantiated ruling and cannot be verified by this librarian.
5. There is absolutely nothing about Unwanted Same Sex Attraction (SSA) or how homosexuality originates. There is nothing about GID (Gender Identity Disorder) either. Links to informative and supportive web sites should be on your web site. These links need at a minimum to include:

People leave homosexuality every day. The information is for those wanting it, seeking it, needing it. As the gay community says, it is all about choice and self-determination. The problem with choice is, in order to choose, there must be more than one thing to select from…correct? Our library needs to give everyone with UNWANTED SAME SEX ATTRACTION the resources needed in order to make an educated decision.

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


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

I found your blog through Wisconsin Family Voice. I am very disgusted to read about the 'Wallflower' book and the response of the library. I looked up our local area libraries and yup, they all have this book and every copy is either checked out or being held. I am emailing all the info to others in my email and hope that they, too, will complain but doubtful that anything will be done about this book. Thank you for informing us all about this. I never would have known had I not read your blog!

Jody said...

You are not the only taxpayers in West Bend, surely there are many of us who as parents are enlightened enough to use these books as teaching tools for our children. These books allow for open discussuion for parents and their children.

You seem to think just because you don't want them that alone should be enough to get them removed from the library. Well guess what you aren't the only taxpayers and we all have a right to have books in our library.

Bottom line if you don't want your children to read them then be a parent and don't let your children check them out. Your outdated and ignorant voice is not the only ones that should be heard. Your tax dollars are not more important than mine.

~Carrie said...

I'm not so sure that the two previous commentors understand the issue here. Perhaps if you take a deep breath and reread the post, you would understand. From what I'm reading, the poster was requesting that the library balance the selections at a minimum, and remove pornographic and perverse material. If Kristin Pekoll is going to push one view on our teens and preteens, she should give equal time to opposing views. If you think keeping some of this material in the YA section is appropriate for this age group, why don't we just stick some Playboys in there as well? I'd love for my 15 year old to wander into that section. How open and accepting he would be of all the morally corrupt behavior in this world! I would suggest that instead of pulling the controversial material off the shelves entirely, just move it to the second floor, in the corner, hidden away with the shelves of Bibles.

WestBendNative said...

West Bend has many people living in it and not all are like those who want the books removed. I have read both books and reviews of both and can say that yes, they are realistic, but I can also see that they'd be appreciated by teens going through the hell that teens experience. They are useful books aimed at teens and do have a place in a library for the PUBLIC. It is not a Christian library or a family library, but one for all of the community, including minorities and teens. If parents are worried, then watch what your kids read as closely as you watch what TV shows or movies they see. It is ultimately the parents' responsibility for their kids, not the library's. By the way, the Geography Club is a delight to read and not at all offensive. Parts are even cute. It is all in the eye of the beholder. As for "other" viewpoints: these books make up for decades of years with absolutely no such books around. There are a billion teen books about heterosexual romance, etc., already, and these fill a gap. It's about time.

WestBendNative said...

I just discovered a portion of the West Bend Library's website that has had for a while a teen reading list for Christian fiction and non-fiction. No other religions have reading lists of their own and non-belief doesn't have one, either. I would say that this library does indeed have a very balanced approach to the teen collection -- if anything, it might be a good idea to add a section about non-Christian religious beliefs, too. Kudos to the West Bend Library!

Catherine said...

Um... since when do Christian parents fear the world so much that they want public arenas to screen FOR them?
This is why there is an "exodus" from public to homeschooling. This is why we, as a family, don't buy cable or expose our daughter to such poor role models as Britney or Hannah Montana.
I truly believe that your request is absurd and there are already plenty of 'ex-gay' or Christian literature available. Not only on the shelf but also as an interlibrary loan.

Remember, there are plenty of recent articles about the FANTASTICALLY believable conversion by Ted Haggart- remember, it took him a mere 2 weeks to turn straight again after getting caught with a male prostitute?

True Christians are not so nervous as to shelter their children from the world. They teach them to stand strong against it without jumping ship from their family values.

You would do well to learn from Michael Pearl's teaching on proper family balance (nogreaterjoy.org)

You also appear to be a dominant female and are shaming your husband by being the leader in this. The Bible makes it clear 100% he is to be your spiritual head, and you are dishonoring him by leading in this.

I think your intentions are more anti-homosexual than Christian in nature,

Greggswife said...

Catherine..interesting how you feel it's ok to judge Ginny and her husband when you're saying they shouldn't 'judge' what's in our community library! And..did your husband approve of what you wrote? Dominant female? Wow..that is strong. Please be careful. My husband and I admire the Pearls and in fact have most of their teachings, materials etc...including "Jumping Ship". I do not see what you've shared here in that book or other teachings. (And btw, Mike Pearl speaks adamantly against homosexuality..and abortion for that matter. From reviewing your blog, it seems you're ok w/ both. Do you profess to be a born-again Christian?).
Of course we're supposed to keep our children from the world and teach them to beware of evil. But we're also supposed to 'fight' for our children and what about just being plain concerned for other, not-so-fortunate children who's parents don't give a hoot about what's in the YA section of the library? We are to 'love one another'. Just that alone is a reason to 'fight' for this issue in our libraries! The excerpts from those books ARE pornographic. Have you read them? Would you read them to your children?

If nothing else-this is raising an AWARENESS to so many. I've seen proof of that from the many I've talked w/ already.
Praise God for that!!

Megan said...

Greggs Wife -

Thank you for your post. I have read excerpts from the Wallflower book. I agree they are pornographic in nature & should not be in the YA section at our West bend library. I think this is an issue worth fighting for. I do not think this is an anti gay issue. I think it is an anti pornography issue. If movies & video games are rated for children based on obsenity, language etc - Why not books? We can choose what our children should read. Just give us parents more information up front to do do.

Anonymous said...

When I was younger, I was able to read well above my age group. I read Oscar Wilde, Dickens, Dumas, books on history, arts, science etc. Books are a doorway to discovery, not a gateway drug to homosexuality, drug use or violence. All that comes from the moral fibre or background of the child's parents. Banning something, is just going to make kids look harder to get it. By causing such a ruckus about this material, you've popularized it with others. Its simple, on tv, there are things you don't like. So, you don't allow your children to watch them. Well the same can be said for books. I don't for one second believe there is an agenda at the library where there are more 'gay' books then there are 'straight' books. For that matter, there is no such thing as those clasifications. There are just books. If you're going to start censorship here, why not remove classical history books, because, after all, the Ancient Greeks believed in Homosexual sex. In fact, remove any history book whatsoever, because there is violence, drug use etc littered throughout their pages. And god forbid you mention the sixties. We'll just skip that period in the classroom. Those people who ban books, burn books, and start dictating what people can and can not read and where they can find it, will find they no longer live in the land of the free, but somewhere completely different. Everyone in the world wants to live in this country because even though they may not want to read or do something, they have the ability to do so. This is not Iran, China, or for that matter, Nazi Germany. Please, use your common sense, take a look at yourselves. Your children's beliefs, their morals and their future is up to what YOU instill in them, not a book or books. If you truly believe that your children are that weak, or that you have raised them to not make an informed, independent decision on their own, then I am very sorry for you, because as parents, you have failed. Sometimes being a good parent mean exposing your children to the realities they will face in the real world, and talking to them about it. Violence, drugs, sex, homosexuality, guns, pollution, crime, war, bad people. They are all out there, whether you like it or not, and blocking it out will not make them go away. Perhaps you could look at some of these things as opportunities to discuss some of these things with your children, find out where they stand, and explain where you stand. I do not devalue the love and concern you have for your families, but censorship is not the answer to anything. Reasoned education and thought is. Take care

Lawrence, NYC

Anonymous said...

So a book described a homosexual act. I am sure that the news, internet, local news publication and your childrens' friends have no such knowledge or ability to account for something you don't like. If you dont like some of the books, take your kids library card away. Better yet, go with them and make sure they get books you approve of. Going around and making a stink that your tax dollars are supporting this are absurd.

Why dont you go out and get some books that talk about the evils of homosexuality or whatever, let your kids read them, then donate them to the library. Wow, that would be tough.

Anonymous said...

I wish you'd pick up trash from the side of the road instead of making these books sound interesting to kids.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the West Bend library for politely refusing to give in to nutters.