More challenged books: couple petitions West Bend, WI, public library

In another case of challenged books from public libraries, a Wisconsin couple has petitioned for the reclassifying of several Young Adult books to Adult.  Ginny Maziarka and her husband feel that books like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Geography Club, and Deal With It! a whole new approach to your body, brain and life as a gURL should be moved to a restricted adult area, smattered with warning labels, and flagged for parental approval before check-out. She calls them “explicitly sexual” and “pornographic,” yet the West Bend Community Memorial Library Director Michael Tyree objects, explaining that “these books are from reputable publishers.”

As we have argued before, where parents may object to their children reading certain material, it is not their responsibility to reclassify material, or impose new policies or content restrictions on libraries.

The petition has also demanded that the library balance its shelves with “affirming traditional heterosexual perspectives” that are faith-based or written by “ex-gay” authors. This may sound good, but there is a faulty logic behind it. Libraries choose their literature based on reviews from reputable sources and on their literary or scientific value.  They should not be shuffling books between sections simply because community members object to the content, nor are they obliged to include an opposing viewpoint for every book they hold. Otherwise someone may demand that Diaries of Anne Frank were balanced out by the work of a Holocaust denier. Not to speak that “traditional heterosexual perspectives” are more than well represented both in libraries and in the culture at large.

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Blogging Censorship is where National Coalition Against Censorship staff weigh in on the censorship issues on their minds.
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24 Responses to More challenged books: couple petitions West Bend, WI, public library

  1. Pingback: LibraryRemix » Blog Archive » To close for comfort…

  2. Pingback: HattieBB » Blog Archive » To close for comfort….

  3. Pingback: Libraries, West Bend, and Civil Liberties

  4. Pingback: Calling for a book burning in West Bend, Wisconsin « Blogging Censorship

  5. Dan Kleinman and “SafeLibraries,” we disagree.

    Those who object to a book in the public library are entitled to their view. But the public library is for everyone. No one has the right to demand that the Young Adult section (or any other section of the library) reflect their personal views. If parents object to books in the YA section, they can direct their child to a different book, but they may not impose their views on others. No one has to read something just because it’s on the library shelf.

    The books challenged in West Bend, WI, are highly recommended for young adults and fully protected under the First Amendment. Restricting access to these books on the basis of some people’s objections is inherently reductive and subjective and creates a chilling effect on reading choices.

    The Kids’ Right to Read Project supports the principle that libraries should offer an expansive selection of reading materials to meet readers’ needs and interests in both public schools and libraries.

    We urge the West Bend Library Board to keep the challenged books in the YA section of the library, available to all.

  6. Dan Kleinman says:

    Dear “Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship”:

    It is a pleasure speaking with you. I’m Dan/SafeLibraries.

    The problem is not parents objecting to books, as you put it. You don’t have to be a parent to think inappropriate material for children should not be made available to children in a public library except to satisfy the claimed First Amendment concerns of out-of-state organizations.

    The problem is a lack of local control over public libraries. Do locals control public libraries, or do out-of-state organizations get to control them, particularly with false and misleading statements? Dubious First Amendment claims were used to justify the destruction of hard drives containing child pornography in a public library–a potentially criminal act. Are those same false claims being used to convince people to circumvent common sense regarding children in West Bend? Are West Bend citizens supposed to be convinced by such organizations or take what they say at face value? (See “Libraries Aid and Abet Pedophiles, Destroy Evidence, Retaliate Against Whistle Blowers, Claim Dubious Privacy and Free Speech Rights; ALA At Fault.”)

    Think about it. You are suggesting community members may not influence their own public library (“the public library is for everyone. No one has the right to demand that the Young Adult section … reflect their personal views”) while at the same time you apply direct pressure (“We urge the West Bend Library Board to keep the challenged books in the YA section of the library….”). You even wrote an impressive-looking letter from your 7th Avenue, New York City suite directly to the West Bend Common Council that is filled with false and misleading information, as I have already linked and discussed in my previous comment.

    You say we “disagree,” but you do not address the legitimate issues I raised. For example, “The Dog Not Barking” section remains the dog not barking. There may be library laws that simply preclude certain materials. “Anything goes” policies may fall outside the existing laws. Nowhere is that discussed by anyone. Nowhere have I seen anyone looking at the original legislation that created the library to see what it says. But it is relevant, it should be reviewed, and no one is doing so. Instead we hear platitudes like, “No one has to read something just because it‚s [sic] on the library shelf.” Better yet, we hear, “The books challenged in West Bend, WI, are highly recommended for young adults….” Right, by the very same out-of-state parties making false and misleading statements and employing dubious theories to justify failing to assist law enforcement efforts regarding child pornography.

    You said the books at issue are “fully protected under the First Amendment.” Correct, but that is misleading. According the US v. ALA, a public library is not an open public forum where anything goes. All constitutionally protected materials do not get automatically included in all library collections.

    Indeed, libraries are created by some legal instrument that describes explicitly or implicitly what material is acceptable in the public library and what material is not acceptable, even if that material may be constitutionally protected. Oops, there’s that dog barking. So, thanks to local library enabling legislation, otherwise constitutionally protected material may represent a violation of local law. The NCAC/ALA should not be advising local libraries to violate the very local laws that created them.

    Let me ask you this. Do you agree that it is up to the local library to decide what is in the best interest of its own community?

    I look forward to your response.

    Thank you.

  7. Dan Kleinman says:


    Please change “No one has to read something just because it‚s [sic] on the library shelf” to “No one has to read something just because it’s on the library shelf.”

  8. Dan Kleinman says:

    Dear “Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship”:

    Do you agree that moving age inappropriate materials to another more restrictive library section would not violate the First Amendment?

    On another topic, I sincerely thank you for this online forum for discussion of these issues. The blog of the American Library Association’s so-called Office for Intellectual Freedom allows no such comments. Ironic, no? You do, however, and it is a noticeable and praiseworthy difference.

    Thanks again.

  9. C.Bouchard says:

    Is there something readers of this website can do to support the West Bend Library?!
    The parents arguing for censorship have an online petition. Is there an analogous one to support the library board?


  10. Dan Kleinman says:

    Ah. Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship. You are still reading this blog. Please respond to my questions. Thank you. Your responses are important for people to better understand things.

  11. Mary says:

    Interesting that Mr. Kleinman asks the rhetorical question if it is just for outside organizations to control library policies. He must be referring to the ACLU and the ALA becoming involved in the West Bend Community Library issue. Mr. Kleinman, aren’t you and your organization located in New Jersey? Have you not had direct contact with the couple that filed the complaint? She has indicated that she’s had direct contact with you. If that is the case, isn’t a double standard evolving out of your argument?

  12. Pingback: News Lawsuits, Bookburnings and some really crazy old coots - D.Gray-divinityNET

  13. Stephen says:

    You are an idiot and should not try to tell other parents what their children should or should not read. Let them decide for themselves, and you can decide for yourself what your children should read.

  14. Dan Kleinman says:

    Mary, thank you for thinking I have influence even close to the ALA’s, but I don’t. I don’t get any funding or awards from Playboy Enterprises, for example. Further, I seek to inform communities so they can decide for themselves, not misinform them so they decide what the ALA wants them to decide but think they decided it on their own.

    Your comment, Mary, was entirely ad hominem in nature.

  15. A. Thinker says:

    Right, Dan, and mentioning Playboy is fully relevant. Keep your ad hominem accusations in your pocket lest you live in a glass house.

  16. Dan Kleinman says:

    I like your name, “A. Thinker.” Funny!

    Yes, Playboy is relevant. SafeLibraries started as an effort to keep kids in Oak Lawn, IL, from accessing Playboy. The ALA high command stopped the effort and kids still have access. You see, sometimes the ALA controls local communities, literally. So I can speak about the funding the ALA gets from Playboy anytime I wish.

    You can support the ALA’s effort to keep Oak Lawn children reading Playboy magazine, and other similar ALA actions nationwide, all you wish. You choose the ALA, I choose children.

  17. Saskplanner says:

    What a bunch of narrow minded hillbillies. You want to burn books? Move to Iraq or Afghanistan where’s it’s acceptable. Morons.

  18. Sad and Disappointed says:

    This censorship is sad, in America no less. This is another example of parents in America wanting someone else to parent their kids. In this case, the original parents who started this protest, I’m willing to bet would rather send their kids off to the library for a couple of hours than to interact with them at home. If they feel the books are offensive, then monitor what your kids read. Its simple as that, I would rather educate my kids than censor them…I had music attempted to be censored from me when I was young by the PRMC, guess what Mrs. Maziarkas? I sought out that music more because I wanted to see why it was trying to be banned. Educate rather than censor and love our freedom of speech!!

  19. Terrific. Thank you for the post. God, I need to start updating my blog ! 😛

  20. Pingback: Michael Steeleworthy, MLIS | Portfolio » Libraries, West Bend, and Civil Liberties

  21. Pingback: Libraries, West Bend, and Civil Liberties | the zeds : library science

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