Library board votes to remove 2 books while policy for acquisitions developed

Thursday, October 12, 2006
Marshall residents crowd into the Marshall Municipal courtroom Wednesday, Oct. 11, to hear the Marshall Public Library Board of Trustees' decision on the removal of two graphic noivels from the library shelves.

Two novels deemed offensive by some members of the Marshall community will not be available to Marshall Public Library patrons while a new policy is hammered out by Marshall Public Library Board members.

The meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11, was moved from the library meeting room to the Marshall Municipal Court room, where a large crowd assembled to hear the decision.

The two graphic novels in question, "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel and "Blankets" by Craig Thompson, which were deemed "pornographic" by some members of the community who brought them to the attention of the board and filed a request to have them removed from the library, will be re-evaluated for inclusion on library shelves after the board establishes a "material selection policy."

"We will then have concrete guidelines for their appropriateness and for their placement if they are kept," board president Anita Wright said.

Wright proposed the policy during her opening remarks at the meeting. Board members voted seven to one, with board member Connie Grisier voting against the motion to go forward with developing the new policy. A committee made up of most of the board members was formed to write the new policy.

"Research will be done to find out what other libraries throughout the state -- and we can even inquire nationally if desired -- have done in this arena." Wright said during her opening comments.

Wright said that the books in question will be "filed away" and not be made available to anyone through the library until the material selection policy is completed. At that point, the new guidelines will be applied to the books in question and it will be decided if they will be included in the library's collection.

"At no point will the policy be written with an attempt to 'work around' the materials in question," Wright said. "The policy will be written to be a lasting policy for any selections to be made in the future."

Library Director Amy Crump said that she fully supports the decision.

"I'm happy with the decision," Crump said. "It's a necessary step."

The committee will be initially made up of six of the library board members who volunteered for the committee, along with Crump and library staff members who are currently involved in material selection.

Crump said that while work on the policy will begin immediately, library policy dictates that the policy be read and discussed and possibly amended by the assembled library board. That process means the new selection policy may take months to become a reality.

"With this proposal I am not trying to 'buy time'," Wright said. "I do not feel that any one of you is unwilling to make a final decision about these items. I make this proposal to allow us to be exacting in what we do and to make a final decision based upon precedence, legalities and what we want this library to stand for."

Louise Mills of Marshall, who brought the books to the attention of the library board and filed the paperwork to request removal of the books, was in attendance at the meeting which saw nearly 90 people fill the chairs.

"The policy is definitely needed because currently anything can be brought in or taken out by Amy," Mills said of the decision.

Dave Riley of Marshall, who spoke out in favor of keeping the books during the public hearing on Oct. 4, said that he supported the idea.

"Sure I think it's a good idea," Riley said.

When asked about the books being pulled from the shelves while the policy was made, he said, "I understand why. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I understand it."

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  • This is a public library we are talking about...a person is free to pick and choose which books they want to read and which ones they don't. If you don't like the book, don't read it - just because it's in the library doesn't mean you are obligated to read it. There may be other customers who enjoy that type of book but can't read it because a few people find it offensive and are too narrow minded to find a book that they do like.

    -- Posted by aj on Fri, Jan 25, 2008, at 4:50 PM
  • Why not just burn them... why not just close the library. Has our constitution lost all meaning?

    The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    Any public official or employee who advocates banning books should be removed from their position in defense of our constitution.

    -- Posted by formerOwl on Sat, Nov 1, 2008, at 4:10 AM
    Response by Eric Crump/Editor:
    The books in question were subsequently returned to the shelves.
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