I feel compelled to share with you that our First Amendment rights are under attack. Librarians know it; you should too.
In my current training to become a school librarian, I was surprised by the focus on the First Amendment. Turns out that protecting free speech is intimately intertwined with protecting our right to access information, and this is where librarians come in. Our role as school and public librarians is to develop a deep and broad collection of books and material and help our patrons access it.
Melissa Martin’s recent petition asks the Homer library to “remove all books promoting transgender ideology, drag queens, homosexuality, and all other books which are intended to indoctrinate children in LGBTQ+ ideologies from the children’s and juvenile sections of the library. If the library must have them, we petition that a section outside of the children’s area be designated for such books so that parents who do not wish for their children to stumble across these confusing ideas may allow their children to browse freely.” This is an attack on our First Amendment rights.
Have you looked closely at Martin’s list? It includes a book called “Black is a Rainbow Color,” which takes readers on the journey of a young girl celebrating what it means to be Black. There are no LGBTQ+ themes. Library patrons, should we go to a Black section of the library to find this book? What is confusing about celebrating one’s heritage? Many of the books on Martin’s list are award winners or hugely popular. They were written with children in mind, even if not everyone likes the content.
When my daughter was three, she developed an affinity for babies — humans and animals. One night at bedtime, she asked, “But how does the sperm get to the egg?” I wasn’t ready for that question! The next day, I turned to the children’s section of Anchorage’s Loussac Library for help. As my daughter and I read through the books, I came to some content I wasn’t ready to share with my young child, so I skipped over it. It’s called parenting.
Suggesting that the public library, rather than the parent, should determine what books children can access is censorship. Don’t ask the library to limit our access to books and information. Don’t ask them to ostracize those who want to read it by labeling the books or placing them in a section that indicates they don’t otherwise belong.
And when we go to the public library, let’s all hope they have the book we’re looking for.
— Sarah Stone
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