Palin update

Oof-da.

This story is starting to gather speed.  Interestingly, one of the pieces that has gotten attention is a comment in Jessamyn’s blog - that she refutes in the piece – that is purportedly a list of the books Palin has tried to ban.  (It’s actually a list of the most banned books in the US.)

The Anchorage Daily News has an article about the issue, and there is an interesting exchange in the piece.

When the matter came up for the second time in October 1996, during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny, a Wasilla housewife who often attends council meetings, was there.

Like many Alaskans, Kilkenny calls the governor by her first name.

“Sarah said to Mary Ellen, ‘What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?” Kilkenny said.

“I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of, ‘The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'”

Palin didn’t mention specific books at that meeting, Kilkenny said.

Palin herself, questioned at the time, called her inquiries rhetorical and simply part of a policy discussion with a department head “about understanding and following administration agendas,” according to the Frontiersman article.

Hmmm.  There are a few interesting pieces about this.

As a former City Librarian, had a mayor or council member or anyone else asked me that question, I would have answered a query about “removing some books from the collection” with the procedures the library had in place to challenge a selection.  If the librarian’s response is accurately reported, it’s haughty at best.

This is also a different question than previously reported, in which Palin purportedly asked how to ban books from the collection.  (Of course, nothing raises the immediate ire of the library community like the “B” word.)

It was not unusual for me to be educating the various and sundry political members of the community on what the library did, how we did it, and our reasoning behind it.  Why did we have a copy of Mein Kampf? Harry Potter?  The Da Vinci Code?

Instead of holding forth on our superlative reasoning citing national collection criteria (which wouldn’t have been a valid argument in the eyes of our folks, anyway) I viewed these queries as an opportunity to educate and inform. Here’s why we chose this particular book.  Here’s how we make our decisions.  Here’s how someone can challenge that decision and how we go about doing the review.  Here’s how someone can recommend we add a book to the library’s collection.

There’s a lot to question in this story, the librarian’s attitude included.

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1 Comment

Filed under Libraries and Librarianship, Things that make you go, "Hmmm..."

One response to “Palin update

  1. Mary Beth, thank you for your measured response to this issue. A lot of librarians and library blogs look like fools right now.

    The City of Wasilla has also posted a “Banned or Censured Books Response” as a .PDF on its website – it’s in the folder marked “City Documents – Materials Recently Requested – Former Mayor Palin.”

    http://www.cityofwasilla.com/index.aspx?page=136

    (from Leigh Anne Vrabel’s comment on Tame the Web)

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