Saturday, March 18, 2006

2290 Things get ugly

if you try to protect children at a public library these days. Try to add filters to computers to block explicitly sexual material or move adult entertainment materials to adult sections away from the children, and all sorts of folks pop up who don't have children or don't live in your community. They'll march to the tune of "no censorship."

Just look at the mess the Upper Arlington Public Library has made of public relations and child protection in a request by a parent to move free Gay periodicals from the library entrance. The issue has always been called a "ban" or "censorship" in the local media and by library organizations. How silly. It is neither. These are not subscription items; the library doesn't purchase them. They are dropped off by the distributer/publisher in stacks for people to pick up as they please. There are probably 30-40 free-circ newspapers and magazines that come and go in this part of central Ohio. They are completely supported by advertisers, not subscribers. They cover sports, parenting, art, religious sects, the environment, animals, pets, entertainment, careers, young women, old women, senior citizens, decorating, fashion, Hispanic community, African American community, restaurants and cooking, and so forth. At least two I've seen are specifically targeting in advertising and articles, the gay community, but there may be more. And that includes photos, diagrams and how-to articles on performance, enhancements and techniques, either safely not so safely. Some depictions are pretty gross and graphic. Generally speaking, this not what parents like to find in the 10 year old's backpack when he comes home from the library where many go after school for unsupervised "safe" environment until the parents get home from work. But for desensitizing children to the dangers--well, these publications will work for that.

Stacks of these newspapers used to be in the large soaring attractive entry of the main library building next to the park and grade school (all the parking lots adjoin), but I've seen them in drug stores, coffee shops, grocery stores, and book stores. I've read a lot of these publications because at one time I'd planned to write an article about free-circ publications (they are not indexed or tracked by any library publications or databases--and remember this because it is IMPORTANT*). They provide a lot of jobs for free-lancers and ad-writers. Writers have told me that they pay well, too. I retired before I completed my research and finally threw out my huge collection of yellowing and faded late-1990s papers.

No public agency or private business should be required to give distribution to ANY free-circ publication. If I print up a bunch of my poetry, let's say 50 copies every week, and stack it inside the library door for people to pick up, and the librarians or library board decide they don't need my stuff cluttering up their tax supported building, it isn't censorship or banning my rhymed and metered offerings to my muse. And it isn't censorship for a library to say "We're not giving space for distribution of adult sexually explicit material." I know why librarians support not removing the material, even to an adult section of the library, but the library board? Now that really puzzles me. I thought the solution to move them inside the library actually gave some shoddy material more respectibility than they deserved; but once that bad decision was made, moving them to the adult section away from the children looked like a good compromise.

Here's the story in This Week, a local paper. I have no idea how long they keep their stories on-line.

*When I requested that the library add more Christian magazines to its collection (there was only Christianity Today to represent our culture from the evangelical viewpoint) I was told that the titles I suggested were not indexed in the library's periodical database or covered in the usual review sources that recommend publications. Also, Christianity is apparently a "subtopic" in collection development, if it is conservative, and therefore outside its collection guidelines. The two gay publications that were in the lobby, are in fact also cataloged and kept in the periodical section. I'm pretty sure since they are free-circ that they are not indexed or reviewed in standard library publications.

1 comment:

Anvilcloud said...

News, news: this liberal-leaning guy doesn't disagree with you. Just don't get used to it, eh?