Friday, July 24, 2009

Book burning? Really?

I really need to stop reading the T-C Line comments in our local newspaper. It is best to start your day right by prepping for whatever stresses lay ahead and reading the T-C line is not a good thing to do first thing in the morning. Lately I've tried to convince myself that the people who call in are hoaxters who just enjoy getting a rise out of people. I mean, there's no way people who live right next to the airport would actually complain about noise from the airplanes. I'm only able to sleep at night because I've convinced myself these people aren't for real.

So when I caught this article on CNN about a library controversy in Wisconsin, I told myself it must be a joke. I'm really hoping Alan Abel is behind all this.

So much to say about this situation.

I think my favorite part of the article is when the Maziarkas demand books that will affirm heterosexuality, preferably by "ex-gays". I guess they don't understand that the thousands of other young adult books that are about heterosexual relationships already do that. They don't need to blatantly say that homosexuality is wrong for kids to get the message. It's kind of like the hundreds of TV shows that feature a nearly all white cast versus the handful of shows featuring mostly black or latino characters. This disproportionate ratio sends the message to all people of color that they aren't the norm in our society and therefore need to act more white so they can meet the standards. So there's no need to add anti-gay books to the collection of young adult reading material because the job is already taken care of. The Longmont Public Library has more than enough books that have been published by Focus on the Family to balance out the books containing homosexuality.

I also like how they are demanding that these sexually explicit books be moved to the adult book collection. I agree with a lot of the folks who left comments on the article: perhaps parents should take responsibility and keep an eye on what their kids are reading. But for the many kids whose parents don't do that (like the families I currently work with), maybe it isn't such a bad thing to have the books available. These kids/tweens/teens are probably seeing a lot of sex on TV and in the movies, so why not expose it to them in books? At least they have to use their imagination. Just sayin'. My experience with at-risk youth has shown me that kids don't want to read the "classics" like Little Women and Tom Sayer. Oftentimes the only way we can get them actively engaged in reading a book is if the book is crude or silly like Captain Underpants.

Cataloging books in a library can be a challenge at times. I remember when the Harry Potter books came out and the librarians were all in a tizzy over where to shelve them. They ultimately decided to put the 6th and 7th books in the Teen section because there was kissing and a fair share of violence/fighting in them. It made sense to me. I question a lot of other books in our library. I think maybe they should make an entirely new section for wishy washy books. I'm talking about the books that aren't quite non-fiction and not quite fiction. There are many titles that I've shelved in their proper place on the non-fiction shelves but have been tempted to put them on the fiction shelves. Ann Coulter could have her own end-of-aisle display in this new section.

So, I guess there will always be a debate about books especially when they are bought by tax-payers' money. I do feel bad for the library director in West Bend- I certainly don't think he deserves to be tarred and feathered.