LETTER: Inappropriate books

In 1809 Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Wyche: "I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

In 1809 Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Wyche: "I have often thought that nothing would do more extensive good at small expense than the establishment of a small circulating library in every county, to consist of a few well-chosen books ... " Two hundred years later a book drive organized by the Huron library suggested the donation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky), an age-inappropriate book, and its contact person was a minor. The writer of our Constitution, a Christian, would certainly not consider the above mentioned book "well-chosen." And as in the same letter he described libraries as "institutions for the promotion of knowledge" it is safe to venture that Jefferson wouldn't promote the access of minor children to age-inappropriate books.

So why are books such as Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison) available in the Children's area of the Huron library and St. Mary's school library? The answer comes from the Ohio Revised Code, 2907.31 (C)(1):

"... It is an affirmative defense to a charge under this section, involving material or a performance that is obscene or harmful to juveniles, that the material or performance was furnished or presented for a bona fide medical, scientific, educational, governmental, judicial, or other proper purpose, by a physician, psychologist, sociologist, scientist, teacher, librarian, clergyman, prosecutor, judge, or other proper person."

The Huron library offers programs for kids, such as Youth Connection (an "after school program") and Teen Library Council (where they "make a difference at Huron Public Library while having some fun"). But as librarians don't act "in loco parentis" (in the place of parents), who will make sure kids won't access age-inappropriate books found in the children and young adult sections while attending these programs?

Milla Kette, President

Grassroots American Values

Huron