Recently, the Douglas County Library Board held their monthly business meeting. The meeting was well-attended, something that usually doesn’t happen.
But this session was no ordinary business meeting. The board allows a period at the beginning for public comments. Almost two dozen citizens spoke, ostensibly about one controversial illustrated book — “The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish” — held in the public library stacks. The board rightly adhered to its published policy related to the process of reviewing book complaints filed by citizens.
Because the book touched on the subject of drag queens’ clothing, some of the public commenters wanted the book removed from the shelves, while others suggested that the book be locked away in a “special place.”
At the same time, just as many commenters supported keeping the book available on open shelves.
In this time of divisiveness and culture wars, many of us take one side or another about things like book bans. Taking sides often has multi-aspects that are practical, as well as ideological … sometimes religious, even bigoted.
These days, when a minority group is the target of book complaints, there’s often a bigger ideological trigger in play at places like the DougCo Library Board meeting.
Based on the behaviors and words offered by a few at the library board meeting, there are local people who would like the issue of freedom to read, to be subjugated to their ideological pre-approval, even to the point of removing disfavored perspectives and people minorities from public purview.
Many believe Douglas County Library is a public system second to none. And fortunately, the Douglas County Library adheres to the American Library Association Library Bill of Rights.
“1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information and enlightenment of all people of the community, which the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background or views of those contributing to their creation.
“2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
“3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”
Well, the Library Bill of Rights surely covers the “Swish, Swish, Swish” issue. If not, the 1st Amendment stands at the ready, not just for the few, but everyone.