Ross: A quest to save a library could be solved with compromise
Aug 14, 2023, 8:38 AM | Updated: 9:54 am
(Photo from Dayton Library)
In Columbia County, Wash., with a population of about 4,000, the November ballot will include a referendum on whether to keep the county’s only library open.
And based on the Seattle Times story written by David Gutman, and the Facebook posts from various concerned citizens, it looks to me like this isn’t so much about banning books as about displaying books.
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It’s 2023, you can’t ban books anyway. Banning a book just guarantees it’ll end up in a banned book display on banned book week.
In the Columbia County case, according to the Facebook posts I read, the upset parents say they only wanted the books moved to a different part of the library, not removed completely.
But the Library Board, and the librarian who has since quit, didn’t take them seriously.
These parents feel that displays having to do with sex, like the library’s Pride Month display, are undermining their efforts to protect their kids.
So to me, it sounds like this is about marketing as much as it is about the books themselves. And there’s got to be a way to solve this short of closing down the Columbia County Library.
First, I think we have to accept that parents have a right to control what their young children read. Some parents just don’t want their kids introduced to books about sex just yet, even during Pride Month.
It could be that during Agatha Christie Week, there may be parents who might not want to see murder portrayed as entertainment, who knows? Some parents just want to control what their young children read, and we have to accept that.
For some parents, an in-your-face marketing display at the library entrance is like a sugary cereal ad during a kid’s TV show, and they feel it undermines their control.
But we also have to accept that while parents have the right to shield their own kids, they do not have the right to take away choices from somebody else’s kids by forcing a book ban.
So in communities that want it, how about a display-free entrance for the library? An alternate way of entering the building without being confronted by somebody else’s book choices. Some parents want their kids to explore freely while others want more control. Why can’t libraries provide both options?
If this protest in Columbia County was not really about the outright banning of books, as the protesters seem to be saying, then there ought to be a way to keep this library open.
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