OK, Safelibraries, let's suppose you're completely right. Let's imagine US v. ALA says what you believe it to say, and also that the law has the "standards" in it that you allude to. What, exactly, are those standards? In which legal code are they described?
This is not a broad question, but a practical and specific one. A librarian has a book in hand and is deciding whether or not it gets a warning label and whether or not it can be shelved in the Young Adult section. What are the practical criteria the librarian is to use? And in what law code is this set of criteria specfied?
Please be specific.August 2, 2009 5:52 PM
The response from SafeLibraries was:
No supposing is needed. Anyone can read the case for themselves.
As to what librarians should do, I have no idea. I'm not suggesting I do. But if no one does anything, then that effectively nullifies any US Supreme Court case, any law, any community standard, any common sense. Anything goes. August 2, 2009 6:00 PM
OK, I thought, that's one speaker heard from. Doesn't necessarily represent everybody on that side. But a few minutes later, West Bend Citizen Advocate responded to me and another commentator. I've extracted 2 numbered items verbatim:
2. There is no list of books that we are requested for banning. In fact, the lists we gave were for examples, which we tried to share with our librarians. Key word "tried."
5. The request(s) for me (or others) to lay down rules, guidelines, and formats for the library concerning labels, reclassification and the like are absurd and silly. I will not respond to questions such as these. When we met with the librarians, we asked them for their professional expertise in coming up with a plan or idea that would work for them and for the community. We do not discount the educational backgrounds of our librarians and feel that, if presented with a request such as what our community is asking for, they would have the training and support system to be able to comply with those wishes. August 2, 2009 6:17 PM
As we say in blog-speak: WTF?!
It appears there is a request by some West Bend residents to change the way some books are shelved in the library, and to have a warning label put on them. But there is no list of specific books to apply this to , and there are no specific criteria to be used in making these decisions.
Have I missed something? If a librarian is going to choose where to shelve a book or whether or not to label a book according to local community standards, wouldn't that librarian need a detailed description of those standards?
Could we go back to the petition circulated some months ago for guidance? Nope: it's long on words but no better on specificity. It uses terms like obscene, prurient, and patently offensive, which are famously difficult to define. Obscenity law allows the definitions of these terms to vary from community to community precisely because there is no universal understanding. And this means that in each community residents have to establish STANDARDS as to what these terms mean. See my post on obscenity law if you want more detail.
The citizens of West Bend are long overdue for an update from Ms. Maziarka and the WBC4SL as to what, EXACTLY, they want the library to do. This would not be at all "absurd and silly."