Who’s Controlling County Libraries: Taxpayers or the ALA?

New Teen Sections at County Libraries Stocked with Sexually Explicit Materials   

Commentary by Dan Kleinman

    Teen readership in public libraries has been declining for decades. Libraries have responded appropriately by engaging teens in various ways. Gaming, for example, is the latest trend. (1) But some efforts to reach out to teens have caused people to question their library’s tactics.

    When the Daniel Boone branch of the St. Louis County Library (2) was remodeled, a section of the library devoted just to teens was created.  So far, so good. But, as St. Louis County resident Laura Kostial and her eleven year old daughter found out last summer, sexually inappropriate material for children was part of the teen collection. (3)

    According to Mrs. Kostial, many of the books contained “explicit instructions on how to engage in heterosexual, homosexual, and monosexual activities.” One book, Making Sexual Decisions: A Teen Guide provides teens with advice on how to know if they are ready to become sexually active. The book instructs children as young as eleven that if they can “do the Hokey-Pokey, naked in front of your partner (not while high or drunk) and have a good time doing it, then you might be ready to have sex.” Another title, Growing Up Gay in America, provides children with step-by-step instructions for engaging in homosexual sex acts and how to surf the web for homosexual pornography among other things.

    Mrs. Kostial and other members of the St. Louis community requested that the sexually graphic and age inappropriate material be moved from the teen section to the adult section. They did not ask for the material to be censored, removed from the library’s collection, nor placed under lock and key.

    As a result, St. Louis County Library Director Charles Pace, who is also an American Library Association (ALA) Councilor, said he would set up a review committee to look into the placement of the materials in question.  Mrs. Kostial offered to fill out a form that’s part of the official procedure for requesting such an action but Pace told her that wouldn’t be necessary because he knew which books were of concern.  Although the library’s process for requesting reconsideration of the material was not strictly followed, the library did offer to conduct a reconsideration. (4 & 5)

    The following month Pace denied most of Mrs. Kostial and the other citizens’ requests but stated that he “might” move two titles, Growing Up Gay in America and What are the Causes of Prostitution, to the adult section.

    Unfortunately, to the best of Mrs. Kostial’s knowledge, none of the books she had questioned were removed from the teen area.  Pace did however indicate that a book entitled What are the Causes of Prostitution was moved to the adult section.  Strangely enough, that was not one of the books Mrs. Kostial had asked the library to review.  She asked them to review a similarly titled book, Prostitution and Sex Trafficking, which (at press time) still remains in the teen department along with Growing Up Gay in America.

    In response, members of the community attended the St. Louis County Library Board’s annual tax assessment meeting on August 18th in the hopes of reaching an agreement with the library board and county administrators to establish an adult advisory board to help aid in the selection of material for the teen department. At present, the library relies on an advisory board comprised of teenagers to aid in their collection development process. (6)  Certainly adult citizens should have input as well. [MetroVoice will report on the outcome of the August 18th meeting in our October issue.]

 

Preparing for Deception

    In preparation for the August 18th meeting, Pace decided to go outside St. Louis County to the American Library Association (ALA) for guidance on combating the community effort regarding book collection policies and practices.

    For those not familiar with the ALA (7), it is the oldest and largest library association in the world.  With the influence of a former Illinois ACLU Board member, the ALA changed its mission from one of protecting children from harm into one that now claims it is ‘age discrimination’ for a librarian to keep a child from any material whatsoever. (8)  Nowadays, for example, the ALA awards books containing oral sex as the best books of the year for children as young as twelve but provides no notice as to the content other than why it claims it is award winning.  I personally got the author of one such book to admit he wouldn’t even give his own 12-year-old (if he had one) such a book. (9)

    Pace asks all ALA Councilors (10):

    “Dear Colleagues:
    I wanted to make you aware of an intellectual freedom/censorship issue we are facing here in St. Louis County. A well organized group calling itself ‘Citizens Against Pornography’ is upset about some of the materials that we have in our teen collections. Rather than go through the normal materials reconsideration process their solution is to create a citizen review committee to ‘give input into the collection development process,’ no doubt they would expect such a committee to be staffed by their appointees. Needless to say we are adamantly opposed to such a step and will resist any efforts to create what is in effect a censorship committee. I am curious to know though if any of you in public library settings have experienced similar efforts lately and if so what the outcome was. I look forward to hearing from you.
Charles Pace ALA Councilor-At-Large”

    In response to Pace’s plea for guidance he received two very eye opening responses from two other ALA Councilors. The remainder of this article will discuss the original message from Charles Pace, the responses, and the implications thereof.  Note, the ALA provides advice on this topic in Coping with Challenges; Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials. (11) 

 

The Responses

    ALA Councilor James Casey of the Oak Lawn Public Library in Oak Lawn, IL, was the first to respond to Pace’s request.  Casey nicely summarizes the strategy used to undermine local control of public libraries.  It’s surprising to see such a public admission, including media manipulation.

    Then ALA Councilor Sue Kamm of the Inglewood Public Library in Los Angeles, CA responded.  Her response basically suggested that the subject should not be discussed in a public forum.  Instead, private inquiry should be made to an ALA entity specifically designed to ensure communities remain adherent to ALA policy instead of local law and policy.

    Casey responds to all (12):

 ”Charles:

    Oak Lawn Public Library was subjected to very serious pressure from censor groups and became a major feature of their accusations on blogs and websites.  http://www.safelibraries.org/ I’m afraid that it ‘goes with the territory’. I would advise that your library be firm in resisting their demands, but avoid getting into arguments and ‘back and forth’ in the local media. A polite, dignified statement by your Board should be sufficient. Continue referring to that statement of principle when asked about the issue and try to move the attention of local media to more positive matters such as your programs, circulation, construction plans, long range plan, etc. The storm will die down when the media becomes bored and moves on to other issues.--- It has long been my contention that censors are less interested in removing items from your collection than there are in posturing in an ostentatious manner as champions of righteousness. The more you argue with them or discuss their demands in a public forum, the more publicity they receive. If you accept their demands, it will only lead to more demands since their real motive is to remain in the public spotlight. A citizens committee’ would give them a long term ‘soap box’ and might even become a political factor. You were wise to resist this demand.
Good Luck! Jim Casey – Councilor-at-Large”

    Then ALA Councilor Sue Kamm reveals some behind the scenes help was provided to Pace. She reminds other ALA Councilors of the existence of the ALA’s “Office for Intellectual Freedom” for the very purpose of defeating local opposition to ALA agenda. Sue Kamm said (13):

    “I replied privately to Charles, but I want to remind Councilors (and others) who face issues such as his that the Office for Intellectual Freedom is well-equipped to help people deal with them.

Your friendly neighborhood CyberGoddess and ALA Councilor at Large,
Sue Kamm
Email: suekamm[at]mindspring.com
Inglewood/Los Angeles, CA
Visit my blog: http://suekamm.blogspot.com”

 

Analysis of the Responses

    Here is an analysis of the above ALA messages. It’s a prime example of how the ALA colludes to thwart local citizen control over their community libraries.  Pay attention, St. Louis, you are the latest community under the ALA’s spotlight.

    Pace sounds reasonable when he says, “Rather than go through the normal materials reconsideration process their solution is to create a citizen review committee....”  Materials reconsideration processes are normal in many public libraries. The ALA guides libraries on how to produce such policies. Generally, the policies ensure proper application of library policies to library materials removal suggestions. While the policies may slow the process of reconsideration, they allow for a fair set of rules to be known and followed by all involved.

    Regarding Pace’s complaint about a material reconsideration process being sidestepped, that is a legitimate concern.  And, it is legitimate that Pace brought this matter before the ALA Council. The ALA Council “is the governing body of ALA. It delegates to the divisions of the Association authority to plan and carry out programs and activities with policy established by Council.” (14)

    Pace is asking the Council for help with people he claims are trying to do an end run around the materials reconsideration policy.  But that’s where the reasonable nature of the request stops. He immediately mischaracterizes the issue as one involving ‘censorship’, and he calls a “citizen review committee...what is in effect a censorship committee.” Mind you, the committee is nothing more than a notion at this point and already it is being labeled as a ‘censorship committee.’ Prejudice anyone?

    And the actual remedy being sought by the “censorship committee” is the placement of material that may be sexually inappropriate for children into the adult section of the library instead of the teen section.  That is not censorship by any definition of the word. 
    Did you notice the comments about the “well organized group calling itself Citizens Against Pornography” and “...no doubt they would expect such a committee to be staffed by their appointee.”?  Sounds unfair, doesn’t it, that “a well organized group” is trying to get something they want “staffed by their appointees”?  Isn’t the ALA Council itself a ‘well organized group’ that ‘wants libraries staffed by their appointees’?  I sense a double standard here--complaining about a well organized group of local citizens by sending an email to a well organized nationwide network of ALA Council members.

    The most pernicious aspect of Pace’s letter though is not what he said. It is what he did not say.  Recall he said “Rather than go through the normal materials reconsideration process their solution is to create a citizen review committee....”  Recall I said it was reasonable to impose a materials reconsideration process. It is. But, what Mr. Pace did not reveal is that the materials in question have already been through the materials review process. He has already moved one book (What are the Causes of Prostitution) to the adult section and said he “might” move Growing Up Gay in America but has not done so at press time.

    So the materials review process about which he complains is attempting to be sidestepped has already taken place.  And the ‘censorship’ about which he complains (moving books from the teen section to the adult section) he himself has already accomplished. He has ‘censored’ in the very same manner for which accuses Citizens Against Pornography of trying to do.  I find this an outrageous double standard and it appears to be an intentional omission. He has committed the very act of ‘censorship’ himself which he claims Citizens Against Pornography is attempting to do by the establishment of a citizens advisory board – the very reason he sought council from the ALA in the first place.

    As a result of Pace’s actions, or rather inactions, in furtherance of his official duties in the St. Louis County Library, Citizens Against Pornography has been forced into the position of stepping into the breech. In doing so, it has opened itself up for criticism by the very person acting to ensure community wishes are thwarted and ALA policies are applied. As Pace said, “Needless to say we are adamantly opposed to such a step and will resist any efforts to create what is in effect a censorship committee.” What hubris to think he can thwart community efforts to restore library control to the community. What hubris to complain about censorship when he knows it is a false issue and something he has already committed by moving one book from the teen section to the adult section.

    I urge citizens of St. Louis County to take careful note of Charles Pace’s conduct and community manipulation tactics. Imagine, reaching out to a nationwide network of ALA policy makers to help defeat the efforts of local citizens who are attempting to protect children from inappropriate material.

    Everyone is supposed to forget the 2003 US Supreme Court case the ALA lost when it and the ACLU attempted together to overturn the Children’s Internet Protection Act. The Court said, “The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree.” (15)

    Are citizens supposed to take no action and just let Charles Pace run the library in a manner that harms children despite the law, the Court, community standards, and his own agreement?  I urge St. Louis citizens to take note and act to do what is right to correct this wrong.

 

Mislead the Media

    Turning now to James Casey, head librarian at the Oak Lawn Public Library in Oak Lawn, IL, his response is illustrative of the anti-community attitude of some ALA members. Indeed, despite the Oak Lawn community and government’s best efforts, Playboy Magazine is still available to children via photocopy in Casey’s ALA-controlled library. And he’s the guy giving advice to Charles Pace about how to defeat St. Louis community members.

    The de facto leader of the ALA is Judith Krug. (16)  Consider what she said, “Parents who would tell their children not to read Playboy ‘don’t really care about their kids growing up and learning to think and explore.’” (17)  And specifically regarding the Oak Lawn matter, she said, “I get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children.” (18)  “Blocking material leads to censorship. That goes for pornography and bestiality, too. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it ... Every time I hear someone say, I want to protect the children, I want to pull my hair out.” (19)  Is it any wonder why Casey thwarted the Oak Lawn community from preventing its children’s access to Playboy?

    Casey uses the ‘censorship’ boogeyman, just like Pace. He advises resisting community efforts (“I would advise that your library be firm in resisting their demands”), just like Charles Pace. But he goes further and advises media deception (“Continue referring to that statement of principle when asked about the issue and try to move the attention of local media to more positive matters such as your programs, circulation, construction plans, long range plan, etc. The storm will die down when the media becomes bored and moves on to other issues.”), only this time he is acting in accordance with ALA directives. Casey then expands his deceptive tactics by resorting to ad hominem argument (“censors are less interested in removing items from your collection than there are in posturing in an ostentatious manner as champions of righteousness”). Lastly, he suggests quelling anything that may give local citizens an advantage against ALA policy and even lead to a political advantage for the opponents of the application of ALA policy in local libraries (“A ‘citizens committee’ would give them a long term ‘soap box’ and might even become a political factor. You were wise to resist this demand.”).

    Regarding the media deception, the ALA advises exactly what Casey suggests to Pace.  For example: “Q. Isn’t it true librarians allow children to get pornography on the Internet? A. Absolutely not. Our role is to help children learn to use the Internet wisely and to help guide them to all the great sites that are out there.” (20)  A truthful answer would have been something like “it depends on the librarian, but the ALA Library Bill of Rights holds it is ‘age discrimination’ for a librarian to keep a child from any material whatsoever as only a parent may do that,” (21, 22 & 23) and it would not have strayed into irrelevant information (“‘Bridge’ to the positive. When asked a ‘negative’ question, answer briefly without repeating any ‘hot’ or negative words. Add a positive statement.” ) (20).

    So Casey and the ALA both guide Pace to mislead the media, then misdirect the media.  And they are willing to do so publicly, likely because of how successfully it works.  The St. Louis community can count on Charles Pace to do exactly this, and it appears he already has a good start.  Hopefully, the St. Louis community and media will not be so easily fooled now that it has notice of the media manipulation tactics.

    People of all races, creeds, religions, political parties, etc., oppose allowing children access to inappropriate sexual material.  James Casey’s ad hominem arguments are not the issue.  The issue is community control over public libraries.  By smearing SafeLibraries as he has, Mr. Casey occludes the issue that we are all here for, namely, local control of libraries that refuse to act in the interests of the community. Casey maintains ALA control in Oak Lawn despite community efforts, children still have access to Playboy, and now he is advising Charles Pace on how to maintain ALA control in St. Louis County despite community efforts.

    Casey says “their [meaning parents/organizations who do not want children exposed to inappropriate books in public and school libraries] real motive is to remain in the public spotlight.”  False!  My real motive is the possibility that the ALA’s control over local public libraries results in numerous rapes (24) and molestations (25) of children nationwide, among other things, and if SafeLibraries exposes the ALA propaganda and provides eye opening information, communities may decide for themselves to take back control of the public libraries from the ALA and return it where it belongs--the public. The 'real motive' is educating citizens that the ALA often misleads local libraries that then do not use legal means available to protect children. For example, they may refuse to use Internet filters claiming they simply do not work when in reality even the ACLU says they are over 95% effective and no longer block health-related information. (26)  Or libraries following ALA policy will allow anything at all in the library when in reality the local law used to create the library may legally restrict certain material without fear of “censorship.”  Citizens want to make informed decisions, and the ALA is simply misinforming them.

    The lesson, of course, for the St. Louis community is that Charles Pace will likely make a steady stream of ad hominem arguments against Citizens Against Pornography and its members.  By this means the media will be distracted from the real issues, so people cannot be fully informed that libraries are supposed to be responsive to local communities, not to the ALA.

    ALA Councilor Sue Kamm provides the icing on the cake.  She subtly advises ALA Councilors not to conduct such public conversations, and instead to use the services of the ALA’s “Office for Intellectual Freedom.” (OIF)  That ‘office’ is so dedicated to training people on how to thwart local control over public libraries, that it refused my admission into one of its training classes.  Although I initially fulfilled the requirements for admission, the OIF invaded my privacy by investigating my background then used that information to raise new hurdles again and again to preclude me from its training sessions. (27)  Their actions may be a violation of law and of professional ethics so I’m contemplating legal action.

 

You Have Been Warned

    In conclusion, the St. Louis County community can expect the St. Louis County Library to use every means at its disposal, including media manipulation, to ensure ALA control of the public library.  Community standards and law will be thwarted and children will remain at a heightened risk of harm unless the community considers carefully the implications of Charles Pace’s communications with the ALA Council and the Council’s responses.

    I am certain a review of St. Louis County library law will reveal that the library was created for specific purposes, and the anything-goes policy of the ALA is not included. The community has every right and duty to make the library responsive to the community, not to the ALA.  If the library is acting outside the law, that only makes things worse.

    I urge the citizens of St. Louis County to carefully examine the law and the facts and act accordingly in their own interest.  Carefully review any statement from Charles Pace for misinformation or misdirection.  You are now on notice of the ALA’s tactics and your library director’s adherence to them; he reached out to the ALA for direction, not to the community.  You control the library, not the ALA.

 

Publisher’s Note...

    Please be advised that not all St. Louis County Library branches have the books mentioned in this commentary in their teen section. To find out which branches do have these books, and other objectionable materials, visit the St. Louis County Library website www.stcl.org and do a search through their on-line catalog for the titles.

 

 

Endnotes

(1) “Gaming @ Your Library 2008,” American Library Association, 18 April 2008.
http://www.ala.org/gaming/ (Accessed 9 August 2008). Document ID: 463962.

 

(2) http://www.slcl.org/branches/db/

 

(3) “Innocence Lost at the Library,” by Erika Paul, Missouri Eagle Forum Eagle Watch, Summer 2008.

http://www.moeagle.org/moeagle/pdf/MEFNsummer2008.pdf (Accessed 9 August 2008).

 

(4) “Library Director Charles Pace said they do have the displays with the types of materials in question in stock; however, he said that personnel were not authorized to place them where they were placed. He said that library officials will carefully look at the materials and will determine in a matter of a few weeks if they will be moved to another part of the library. He said there are approximately 17 books to review and they will look at the work as a whole.” 

“Residents Concerned About Sexually Explicit Materials at County Library,” by Ted Dixon, Jr., West Newsmagazine, 19 September 2007.

 

(5) “St. Louis Library Accuses Patron of Creating Controversial Display,” by Debra Lau Whelan, School Library Journal, 9 October 2007.

http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6488293.html (Accessed 10 August 2008).

 

(6) “Teens’ Zone; St. Louis County Library; Advisory Group,” St. Louis County Library. 

http://www.slcl.org/teens/advisory/ (Accessed 8 August 2008).

 

(7) http://www.ala.org/

 

(8) “The Internet and the Seduction of the American Public Library,” by Helen Chaffee Biehle, Family Friendly Libraries, 15 January 2000.

http://www.fflibraries.org/The_Internet_And_the_Seduction_of_the_American_Public_Library.html (Accessed 9 August 2008).

 

(9) “Porn Pushers – The ALA and Looking For Alaska – One Example of How the ALA Pushes Porn On Children,” by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries.org, 27 March 2006. http://www.safelibraries.org/pushers.htm (Accessed 9 August 2008).

 

(10) “[alacoun] Censorship issue,” by Charles Pace, American Library Association, 5 August 2008. http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2008-08/msg00008.html (Accessed 7 August 2008).

 

(11) “Coping with Challenges; Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials,”American Library Association, 29 May 2007. http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/challengesupport/dealing/copingchallengesstrategies.cfm  (Accessed 8 August 2008). Document ID: 388260.

 

(12) “[alacoun] RE: Censorship issue,” by James Casey, American Library Association, 5 August 2008. http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2008-08/msg00009.html (Accessed 7 August 2008).

 

(13) “[alacoun] RE: Censorship issue,” by Sue Kamm, American Library Association, 5 August 2008. http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alacoun/2008-08/msg00014.html (Accessed 7 August 2008).

 

(14) “Council Composition and Charge,” American Library Association, 30 June 2006. http://www.ala.org/ala/ourassociation/governanceb/council/council.cfm (Accessed 7 August 2008).  Document ID: 24527.

(15) United States v. American Library Assn., Inc., 539 U.S. 194 (2003). http://laws.findlaw.com/us/539/194.html (Accessed 8 August 2008).

 

(16) “Editorial: The Krug Contribution; She Convinced ALA to Put its Money Where its Mouth Is,” by John N. Berry III, Library Journal, 15 June 2005. http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA606394.html (Accessed 10 August 2008).

 

 (17) “What Lurks in the Library? - The American Library Association Believes Children Should Have Access to All Material, No Matter How Violent or Obscene,” by Scott DeNicola, Citizen, 18 September 1995. http://preview.tinyurl.com/8d33s (Accessed 8 August 2008).

 

(18) “Oak Lawn Library Vows to Keep Playboy on Shelf,” by Jo Napolitano, Chicago Tribune, 23 June 2005. http://preview.tinyurl.com/6myk74 (Accessed 8 August 2008).

 

(19) “Preventing Kids From Seeing Illegal Smut Is Not Unconstitutional; It’s Common Sense,” by Janet M. LaRue, National Center for Policy Analysis: Idea House, 2001. http://www.ncpa.org/bothside/krt/krt051700a.html (Accessed 8 August 2008).

 

(20) “What To Do When the Media Calls,” American Library Association, 20 October 2006.  http://www.ala.org/ala/pio/mediarelationsa/mediarelations/whatdowhenmedia.cfm (Accessed 8 August 2008). Document ID: 228848.

 

(21) “Library Bill of Rights,” American Library Association, 24 June 1996. http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.cfm (Accessed 10 August 2008). Document ID: 24930.

 

(22) “Access for Children and Young Adults to Non-print Materials; An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights,” American Library Association, 30 June 2004. http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/statementspols/statementsif/interpretations/accesschildren.cfm (Accessed 10 August 2008). Document ID: 45574.

 

(23) “Dealing with Concerns about Library Resources,” American Library Association, 17 November 2000. http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/challengesupport/dealing/dealingconcerns.cfm (Accessed 10 August 2008). Document ID: 388261.

 

(24) http://delicious.com/plan2succeed/rape (Accessed 10 August 2008).

 

(25) http://delicious.com/plan2succeed/molestation (Accessed 10 August 2008).

 

(26) ACLU v. Gonzales, 478 F. Supp. 2d (E.D. Pa. 2007).

http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/documents/opinions/07D0346P.pdf (Accessed 13 August 2008).

 

(27) “Unequal Access,” by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries.org, undated. http://www.safelibraries.org/unequalaccess.htm (Accessed 8 August 2008).

 

 

    About seven years ago, Dan Kleinman began focusing attention on ALA policies that may hurt children when his kindergartner was given inappropriate material in a public school by an ALA librarian using an ALA list of books for kindergartners.  In an effort to protect his own child from further exposure, he quickly found he could not protect one child without protecting them all in any library under ALA sway.  So he founded Plan2Succeed Citizen’s Group in Chatham, NJ, resulting in the partial victory of getting his public library to install Internet filters on some computers, then joined forces with SafeLibraries.org (http://www.safelibraries.org/) to which he now devotes all of his time educating people to follow judicial and community standards and local law instead of blindly following the ALA’s radical dictates.  He is consulted by people nationwide for his expertise in library safety issues resulting from the ALA’s vice grip on local community libraries, as illustrated here in St. Louis County, and he provides such people with a forum for public disclosure untainted by the media filter.  As a result, the ALA hypocritically blocks him attending its training classes or appearing opposite ALA representatives on national news broadcasts.  Mr. Kleinman also lectures on child safety on the Internet.  His new blog at http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/ has the latest in controversial library issues and he invites our readers to comment online.  He may be reached at SafeLibraries@gmail.com.