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Library book causes controversy

By: Denny Trease
By: Denny Trease

The Jessamine County Library board of directors will hold an open meeting Wednesday and take comments from the public about what children should or should not be allowed to see in the library.

That follows the firing of two library workers for allegedly taking matters into their own hands to prevent what they regarded as obscene material from getting into the hands of children.

The book in question titled The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, contains explicit sexual content including bestiality that could not be shown on TV. Library worker Sharon Cook didn't think children should be able to check it out. She says, "I was shocked. I had for some time been concerned about some of the material I saw coming through."

But when a review committee cleared the book, she simply checked it out on her own library card over and over again to keep it away from children until a computer revealed someone had put a hold on it. Cook explains, "The person it was on hold for was an 11 year old girl, and she was in line to get the book next."

So at that point co-worker Beth Boisvert decided to take the book off hold to prevent the 11 year old from getting it. She tells 27 NEWSFIRST, "To my way of thinking, the library would not have allowed an 11 year old child to have that book so I took it off hold. It was as simple as that."

Two days later, Boisvert and Cook were both fired. Boisvert says, "They told me I had practiced censorship."

At the first library board meeting after the firings, Beth and Sharon showed up to explain why the library should change it's policy on censorship, but they were not allowed to speak. Library Director Ron Critchfield defends the censorship policy by saying, "We as a library are charged with making a collection that serves multiple constituencies with multiple interests, and what might interest one person wouldn't necessarily interest someone else."

Library policy clearly states that responsibility for a child's reading must rest with the parent or guardian, not with the library. But the two workers who were fired point out that any child 11 or older can check out a book without parental consent.

Director Critchfield can not talk about the firings, but he did say he was surprised Tuesday to receive a petition saying The Black Dossier and 3 other books represent a threat to public safety.

The petition reads in part, "This community is known to have sexual predators, and works such as these encourage those predators to act out their desires or at the very least justify their desires."

Wednesday afternoon's open meeting at the library begins at 3:30.


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