Meridian Library And Censorship
Chris at The Unequivocal Notion had a post last week about a rumor that my local library here in Meridian had been pulling material off the shelf in response to the decision by the Nampa Library Board to put some "Joy of Sex" books behind the counter. A commenter had left this on his website:
Now, a few certain staff members at the Meridian library (just a few miles down the road) have begun to remove "unrated" DVDs and possibly other "controversial" items from their shelves. This act of self-censorship is troubling because no one from the public has challenged these items. The Meridian library board may not even be aware of the decision. Meridian has tried (and failed) many times to pass a bond for a new building, so maybe this self-censorship is an attempt to avoid public scrutiny before it begins.Like most people who love the 1st Amendment, I'm always concerned about censorship by government entities, so I when I went to the Meridian Library to check out some books, I asked to speak to someone about the allegations. Patricia, the Library Director, came right out and said that, yes, she was aware of the controversy. (Portions of the post linked above had been printed in the local paper's "Other Voices" section.)
Patricia explained that part of her job is to do "deselection", in which she goes through the entire library's holdings a section at a time to see if there are items that could be replaced by something more popular, and last month she was scheduled to review movies. In doing so, she noted that there were several unrated movies (many of them in VCR format, which rarely get checked out). She says she did remove them from the shelf to evaluate those movies. Most of them are now back on the shelves, and for the ones that she found inappropriate for a public library, she's ordered the "R"-rated versions of those movies from Amazon; they'll be on the shelf as soon as they arrive. Personally, I don't have a problem with not having what are basically NC-17 movies on the library shelves if there's an R-rated version available, and I think most people would agree. Patricia went on to say that she never removes books because of perceived controversy, and if she thought she should she'd definitely go to the Library Board. I'd like to think I have a pretty good internal B.S. detector, and it seemed to me that she was being completely honest. I can report that the Meridian Library doesn't seem to have the problem that we see in our neighboring town.