Interview with Maria Hanrahan, Founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech

Kids’ Right to Read’s Jamie Chosak interviewed the Founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech, Maria Hanrahan about the book challenges in West Bend. Here’s an excerpt:

Kids’ Right to Read: What actions did you and the West Bend community take in response to the challenges?

Maria Hanrahan: In late March, the Maziarkas started circulating a petition that asked, among other things, for any book that had sexual content to be moved to the adult collection, and for labeling of “sexually explicit” books.  I also created a petition, asking the library board to keep materials as they are, unrestricted and unlabeled, and to enforce and create policies to protect the library from censorship.  During the month of March, two public library board meetings were scheduled.  The public came out to attend these meetings, but they had to be cancelled due to exceeding the venue’s seating capacity allowed by fire code.  Then in April, the Common Council voted against reappointment of four library board members, citing their “unresponsiveness” to the library complaint issue.

KRRP: Reflecting on this controversy, what would you like people, especially youth, in your community and other communities confronting similar issues to know?

MH: I would like to encourage all libraries to adopt policy language that clearly states how book challenges will be handled and that materials in the collection will not be moved, restricted or labeled based on opinions about the morality or value of the contents.  Any communities that are facing book challenges of this scope should seek assistance from resources like the Office of Intellectual Freedom, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and the National Coalition Against Censorship.  If it is a book challenge affecting the Young Adult section, as this one was youth library patrons should be encouraged to speak out against attempts to restrict their access.  All library patrons should speak out to protect their rights and their access to materials.

Full interview text here.
Read all of this blog’s coverage of the West Bend book challenges here.


About Blog of the National Coalition Against Censorship

Blogging Censorship is where National Coalition Against Censorship staff weigh in on the censorship issues on their minds.
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2 Responses to Interview with Maria Hanrahan, Founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech

  1. Pingback: Whatever You Do, Don’t Read These Books « The Virtual Loft

  2. Ginny says:

    This is the first time I must state this. Maria’s words above are disingenuous. Not once did WBCFSL ever request that “any book that had sexual content” be moved. Our request asked for books that contained “sexually explicit” material in them to be reclassified/moved to the adult section. Of course, we realize YA books will have sexual content. This is not the material we are addressing. Maria knows this. Her words are misleading.

    The statement about two meetings being cancelled because of fire code are inaccurate, as well. One meeting was postponed due to an overflow crowd. One. This meeting was never rescheduled due to obstruction by the library board on the advice of our city attorney. This, readers, is the truth.

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