Letter to the editor: County should follow American Library Association guidelines

Published 2:23 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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To the editor:

Regarding the Davie County Public Library Board of Trustee’s meeting on Sept. 21: While several trustees are new and need time to learn, there seemed to be an interest from an individual to review material and challenge some because that individual may think the material inappropriate or offensive.

I encourage our commissioners and library trustees to reconsider the American Library Association’s 70-year-old “Freedom to Read Statement.” https://www.ala.org/advocacy/intfreedom/freedomreadstatement

“The freedom to read is guaranteed by the Constitution. Those with faith in free people will stand firm on these constitutional guarantees of essential rights and will exercise the responsibilities that accompany these rights.

“1. It is in the public interest for publishers and librarians to make available the widest diversity of views and expressions, including those that are unorthodox, unpopular, or considered dangerous by the majority.

“2. Publishers, librarians, and booksellers do not need to endorse every idea or presentation they make available. It would conflict with the public interest for them to establish their own political, moral, or aesthetic views as a standard for determining what should be published or circulated.

“3. It is contrary to the public interest for publishers or librarians to bar access to writings on the basis of the personal history or political affiliations of the author.

“4. There is no place in our society for efforts to coerce the taste of others, to confine adults to the reading matter deemed suitable for adolescents, or to inhibit the efforts of writers to achieve artistic expression.

“5. It is not in the public interest to force a reader to accept the prejudgment of a label characterizing any expression or its author as subversive or dangerous.

“6. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people’s freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

“7. It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians to give full meaning to the freedom to read by providing books that enrich the quality and diversity of thought and expression. By the exercise of this a?irmative responsibility, they can demonstrate that the answer to a “bad” book is a good one, the answer to a “bad” idea is a good one.”

In more simple terms, it is not our prerogative to deny access to materials that may be useful to an individual. Only parents have the prerogative to disallow their own child access to materials.

Julie Whittaker, Mocksville

Retired Youth Services Librarian