Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

FONT

MORE STORIES


Mt. Angel's library, along with more than a dozen others around the state, fielded a pile of complaints from patrons who claimed some material was inappropriate.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF MT. ANGEL - Mt. Angel Public Library patrons asked the small library to remove six books from its collection early this year. The library normally does not get many book challenges, Library Director Jackie Mills said.Librarian Jackie Mills expected 2019 to be another quiet year for her small Mt. Angel Public Library.

She was wrong.

A handful of library patrons in the small Marion County town of about 3,500 people seven miles southeast of Woodburn, pushed Mills and the library to remove several items from its collection of more than 37,000 books, magazines, movies, audiobooks and music CDs. The patrons found the books objectionable, and they challenged the library to take them out of circulation.

It was unusual for the town known mostly for its historic Benedictine Abbey and Oktoberfest, said Mills, the library director who fielded six "reconsideration of materials" forms filed by objecting patrons. "I know the previous three librarians personally, and none of them have had a 'reconsideration of materials' form submitted," she said. "I have been a librarian for nearly 30 years, and while I've had concerned patrons, I've never before had a formal complaint, and to be honest, expected to complete my career without one."

COURTESY PHOTO: JACKIE MILLS - Mt. Angel Library Director Jackie Mills, right, and the librarys Youth Services Coordinator Ellie Arnett, pose with Caesar the No Drama Llama during an August library event.Those six objections to Mt. Angel Public Library material were among nearly four dozen challenges filed between July 2018 and June 2019 by library patrons across the state in 15 public libraries, five school libraries, three schools and two other institutions. Local library directors and others reported the challenges to the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse, part of the state library.

In its Sept. 11 annual report, the clearinghouse detailed five library service challenges, three incidents of libraries defaced by swastikas or other offensive graffiti and 46 challenges to books, magazines or films in library collections. In almost every case, libraries retained the challenged books or other material and sent polite responses to patrons who complained.

Library challenges are also collected by the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom. The association keeps a national list of books, magazines, movies and other items challenged by library patrons. It also advocates for free-speech issues and provides resources for librarians working with patrons who object to books and other items.

"I have been a librarian for nearly 30 years, and while I've had concerned patrons, I've never before had a formal complaint, and to be honest, expected to complete my career without one."

The annual clearinghouse report is part of national Banned Books Week, Sept. 22 to 28. Most Oregon libraries display books people have tried for years to ban. Near the top of the list of books most challenged in libraries across the nation for the past several years is Alex Gino's "George," mostly because it deals with sexually sensitive issues.

COURTESY OF ALALast year's challenges were the most filed in Oregon. "Fifty-four challenges is more than we've seen in recent years," said Tamara Ottum, the state library's Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse coordinator. In 2017-18, there were 24 challenges to library material. In 2016-17, there were nine challenges. The second-highest number of challenges, 27, were filed in 2012. (There are about 150 public libraries in Oregon.)

Among the items most challenged by library patrons: books for young readers, manga and graphic novels.

Mt. Angel Public Library's six challenges were second only to the nine filed by patrons in Multnomah County's library system, which has 19 branches (and a bookstore), nearly 2 million items in its collection and covers an area with more than 800,000 people.

Each family's standards

Mills said Mt. Angel's 2018 book challenges could be traced to a group of parents in a local church who were upset when a 13-year-old girl began reading a graphic novel the girl's mother thought was inappropriate for young adults. The group became "hyper-vigilant" about books they didn't like in the library's young adult section. "The result were the challenges," Mills said.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF MT. ANGEL - A display of childrens books is part of the Mt. Angel Public Library collection.In a March 22 letter, five members of the group asked Mills to remove the books and graphic novels they felt didn't match the "uniqueness of Mt. Angel" and may be too sexually explicit for young readers. "There are books now in the young adult section and younger ages which promote sexual promiscuity and experimentation which indicate no moral compass and a sense of amorality if not immorality," according to the group's letter. "These books undermine parental authority and every parent's wish to form their children in light of the values handed down to them."

In each case, Mills said she followed library procedure to evaluate the requests to withdraw material and balance it against other patrons' library use. The library retained each of the challenged items. "None of the complainants opted to appeal the decision," Mills said. "I spoke with each of the complainants in person, and while they disagreed with me, they respected my decision."

PMG FILE PHOTO - Mt. Angel is known more for its annual Oktoberfest than for library book challenges.Mills wrote to the group in late March explaining her decision. "I absolutely agree that it is every parent's right and responsibility to determine what their child reads and checks out from the library," Mills wrote. "It is not, however, a parent's right to determine what other people's children read or check out. Nor is it the responsibility of the library staff. Every family has its own standards of acceptability regarding a wide variety of topics."

That wasn't the end of it. In May, someone posted an 8-by-10 flyer on a Mt. Angel senior center bulletin board decrying the library's apparent promotion of "witchcraft and satanic subjects." The flyer warned parents and grandparents that children visiting the local library "are discovering as they peruse the shelves and then check out for recreational reading and enjoyment subject matters that are undesirable for the health and minds of our children." The flyer was removed within a week.

"Fifty-four challenges is more than we've seen in recent years."

"I try to meet all my patrons' needs to the best of my ability," Mills said. "I seek to treat everyone with respect. I always want my patrons to feel as if they can talk to me and disagree with me, but I also want them to understand that I've chosen to be a librarian because I truly believe in the principles by which I work."

Pride Month displays

It wasn't just books that drew the ire of library patrons during the past year. A handful of libraries fielded complaints and criticism about June's Pride Month displays highlighting LGBTQ authors and programs. Most were from people who objected to the displays' one-sidedness on a complicated social issue.

In Estacada, one person complained to Clackamas County officials about the library's Pride Month events, saying she didn't like her tax dollars funding those types of programs. The person didn't contact the library directly. She also posted complaints and "threatening language" on social media saying the programs "needed to be stopped." County officials relayed the complaints to library staff. The library's Pride Month event was held without incident.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The renovated Oregon City Library fielded complaints from a couple of parents about a June Pride Month display. In Oregon City, two people complained separately about the library's Pride Month display set up in an area away from the children's reading section. One parent complained that her children had seen the display and she was upset that it was not balanced by other views or values. Another parent also complained about the display and said he would not return with his children while the display was in place.

Lincoln City's Driftwood Public Library Pride Month display was nearly scuttled because the city manager worried it could be seen as endorsing LGBTQ issues. The library director, its governing board and the city manager worked out a policy on displays and the library programs continued as planned.

Astoria Public Library's Drag Queen Story Time was challenged by a concerned citizen who thought it was too confusing for young children. Astoria officials backed the program and the story time continued.

'Stupid' characters' names

COURTESY PHOTOBooks that faced challenges during the past year included the classic "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which a Portland-area pre-school teacher complained had stereotypical images of African-American children. The book is part of the Indestructibles series with updated illustrations of African children as the main characters.

A parent of an Albany student complained that Sherman Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" was too graphic for eighth grade readers. Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" also was challenged by a Southern Oregon parent who thought references to body parts and genitalia were not appropriate for young readers. The parent suggested that the Josephine County library District get a child-appropriate version of Frank's book.

COURTESY PHOTOA Harney County patron with an archeological background worried that the library's copy of "The Official Overstreet Indian Arrowhead Identification and Price Guide" was an affront to Native Americans and could encourage people to loot native sites. The library retained the book.

A Southern Oregon library volunteer worried that the "Josephine County Historical Resources Inventory" provided too much information on cultural sites that could be damaged. The library retained the book.

A Multnomah County resident challenged the library systems' collection of L. Ron Hubbard books about Scientology, saying Hubbard's Dianetics books gave the "cult the appearance of legitimacy." The library retained the books.

Two Multnomah County library patrons complained separately that "The Travels of Babar" children's book was racist. The library system retained the books.

COURTESY PHOTOA Hermiston library patron thought Harry G. Allard's 1985 picture book "The Stupids Die" was offensive because of the main characters' last name ("Stupid," of course). The library retained the book.


Kevin Harden
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on Twitter
Visit Us on Facebook




SIDEBAR

2018-19 OREGON LIBRARY BOOKS CHALLENGES

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie

Location: North Albany Middle School

Library Decision: Retained

"The Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig" by Steven Jenkins

Josephine County Library District

Retained

COURTESY PHOTO"Al Capone Does My Shirts" by Gennifer Choldenko

Josephine County Library District

Retained

"All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" by Bryn Greenwood

Salem Public Library

Retained

"Barney's Great Adventure" (video)

Driftwood Public Library

Library does not own title

"Blackout" by Gianluca Morozzi

Salem Public Library

Retained

COURTESY PHOTO"Blue Monday" graphic novel series by Chynna Clugston-Flores

Multnomah County Library

Retained

"The Club" (video)

Deschutes Public Library

Retained

"Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time?" (video)

Oregon City Library

Retained

"Death Proof" (video)

Josephine County Library District

Retained

COURTESY PHOTO"The Diary of a Young Girl" by Anne Frank

Josephine County Library District

Retained

"For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values, and Health" by Al Vernacchio

Mt. Angel Public Library

Relocated

"Freedom is an Inside Job" by Azinab Salbi

Deschutes Public Library

Retained

"Full Service" by Scotty Bowers

Multnomah County Library

Retained

COURTESY PHOTO"George" by Alex Gino

Westridge Elementary School, Lake Oswego

Scappoose School District

Forest Park Elementary School, Portland

Retained in all three cases

"Going Green" by Heather Ransom

South Middle School, Grants Pass

Under consideration

"It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living" by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Mt. Angel Public Library

Retained

"It's a Small World" by Richard M. Sherman

Multnomah County Library

Retained

"Josephine County Historical Resources Inventory" by Kay Atwood

Josephine County Library District

Retained

"Last Tango in Paris" (video)

Deschutes Public Library

Retained

"Lirica Infantil Volume 1" (music CD)

Multnomah County Library

Retained

COURTESY PHOTO"Little White Duck: A Childhood in China" by Andres Vera Martinez and Na Liu

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Relocated

"Mary Had a Little Lamb" by Amy Pixton and Jonas Sickler

(Indestructibles series for young children with updated illustrations)

Multnomah County

Retained

"Milk and Honey" by Rupi Kuar

West Salem High School

Retained

"Naruto v. 11: Impassioned Efforts" by Masashi Kishimoto

Hayesville Elementary School/Stephens Middle School, Salem

Retained

"No More Kisses!" by Margaret Wild

Multnomah County Library

Retained

"Official Overstreet Indian Arrowhead Identification and Price Guide" by Steven Cooper

Harney County Library

Retained

"Once Upon a Time in America" (video)

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Retained

"Roller Girl" by Victoria Jamieson

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Retained

"S.E.X.: The All-you-need-to-know Sexuality Guide to Get You Through Your Teens and Twenties" by Heather Corinna

Mt. Angel Public Library

Retained

Scientology (all materials) by L. Ron Hubbard

Multnomah County

Retained

"Sex Plus: Learning, Loving, and Enjoying Your Body" by Laci Green

Mt. Angel Public Library

Relocated

"Sex, Puberty and All That Stuff: A Guide to Growing Up" by Jacqui Bailey

Mt. Angel Public Library

Retained

"The Stupids Die" by Harry Allard

Hermiston Public Library

Retained

"They Were Strong and Good" by Robert Lawson

Tigard Public Library

Retained

"The Travels of Babar" by Jean de Brunhoff

Multnomah County Library (two challenges)

Retained

COURTESY PHOTO"Twenty-Odd Ducks: Why, every punctuation mark counts!" by Lynne Truss

Lake Oswego Public Library

Retained

"An Unfortunate Coincidence: A Mother's Life inside the Autism Controversy" by Julie Obradovic

Corvallis-Benton County Public Library

Retained

"V for Vendetta" by Alan Moore (graphic novel)

South Salem High School

Removed

"Who Are You? The Kid's Guide to Gender Identity" by Brook Pessin-Whidbee

Mt. Angel Public Library

Retained


Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)


RELATED STORIES

- Milwaukie, Oregon City libraries offer 'things' to patrons

- Spacey summer reading a hit at local libraries

- Libraries in Clackamas County move beyond books

- Hillsboro unveils tiny library kiosks across city parks

- Sourcing project materials goes 21st century

- More mini libraries coming to St. Helens

- Legislation could help Oregon's public libraries

- 'Little Free Libraries' warrant a look throughout Southeast

- Borrow This Book


Go to top
Template by JoomlaShine