Amy Wilson in the Lexington Herald-Leader has an in-depth story on just what went on when two Lexington, KY librarians library workers were fired for withholding a copy of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: BLACK DOSSIER from an 11-year-old girl.
What followed has become a battle of principles that is larger than the women ever imagined.
It has become a question of what public libraries are enshrined to do, what role they are to play in monitoring children and whether they get to decide what people get to read.
What complicates this is that the graphic novel in question meets no standard of obscenity by the law.
According to the story, Sharon Cook, 57, above left, and Barbara Boisvert, 62, above right, basically colluded to keep the book out of circulation — Cook, who had become disturbed by the book’s imagery, checked it out for a year, meaning no one else could check it out. However, when an 11-year-old girl put it on hold, Cook was unable to continue her delaying tactic — and Boisvert stepped in, removing the hold, and keeping the book out of circulation.
Both were fired for their actions. The Jessamine County Public Library has not commented on what they call a personnel matter.
Cook seems to have some kind of obsession with the book — she’s still carrying it around in her knapsack, the dirty parts marked with post-its. This, despite what she describes as her mortal danger when reading the book:
“People prayed over me while I was reading it because I did not want those images in my head,” she says.
And what are those images? In the rather lively comments section below the story, a reader posts a link to a Flickr set of the naughty bits. This is the only one that’s remotely
NSFW. So yeah, probably not something that anyone would want the average 11-year-old to be reading unsupervised.
HOWEVER, Faux News style, in the image description, user melymbrosia writes:
Should the book with these images be shelved in the children’s section of a public library?
To which, probably most rational folks would say “No way!” except the book was not shelved in the children’s section. It was shelved in the Graphic Novel section, which Cook apparently thought was perilously close to the children’s section.
You can see how some (arguably) good intentions are getting a bit warped here. Those who argue that it’s a parent’s job to supervise their children seem to be in the majority — and libraries have gone this route before and the outcome is always that it it is not a library’s job to censor what people can or cannot check out.
We’ll leave the last word to commenter Ringer, who writes:
Can’t we just be happy the kid is at the library at all? Guess she’ll learn to stay at home and view the most horrible smut anyone can imagine on the internet!