WLA 2009: "West Bend Librarians and Community Activists Share Censorship Stories"

Posted by Lisa Strand on Sunday, October 25, 2009 in WLA Blog Archive
Presented by Michael Tyree, director, Kristin Pekoll, young adult librarian, Barbara Deters, board president, and Mary Reilly-Kliss, former library board member, all of West Bend Community Memorial Library.

Though I had followed the case closely, I was anxious to hear first hand the entire story of West Bend's experience in addressing multiple changes to young adult and GLBTQ materials during 2009.

Oh, what a story they had to tell! As the board president said, it could be you. And it very well could be. Is your collection development policy in place? Do you have a process and procedure for dealing with reconsideration of materials? What about complaints about your website (which is actually how these challenges started)?

In West Bend's case, the challenge/complaint kept changing, while the complainants were backed, and advised, by national, conservative organizations. The library was tried in the press, and in several blogs. Library board members whose terms were up were not reappointed, something that had never happened before, or happens rarely.

A highlight of the presentation was a video recording of one of the meetings at which citizens on both sides of the issue testified. Little or no commentary was needed.

I'd like to think that we all, if confronted by similar challenges, would handle ourselves with such courage, resolve, and grace.
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