Archived Opinion

Work together, resolve library controversy

Work together, resolve library controversy

To the Editor: 

I was wrong in my previous letter (“Use common sense with library controversy,” April 5, SMN). The library has not been stonewalling the concerned citizens. After publication of my previous letter about our library, I spoke with the directors of the Macon and Jackson county libraries. 

I learned that our Macon County librarian, Abby Hardison, had agreed to curtail the PRIDE displays in the children’s section back in February. She also spent hours with some of the folks to help them buy Christian books for the library. 

Further, while she provided a Request for Reconsideration to them to challenge certain books in circulation, the group has refused to return the form. Then they went on to the Macon County Commissioner meetings to complain and make spectacle, which shows that they are not serious about reasonable solutions or compromise. This alone should be grounds for the commissioners to disregard their request to withdraw from Fontana. They refuse to follow procedure, and instead prefer to escalate fear, division, and disinformation within our community. 

The fact that none of this information made it in their full-page ad in the Franklin Press speaks volumes about their lack of integrity. Further, their accusations of an agenda by library staff to sexualize our children is an abject lie. It is character assassination, pure and simple. 

As the librarians have explained many times to anyone who will listen, there are strict laws about materials in a public library. A single person cannot remove a book or other material, and there is a procedure that has been ignored. 

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Given the precedents of many court cases across this state and nation, materials that have been properly vetted cannot be easily removed, restricted or labeled based on content. One head librarian in North Carolina removed a book with the intention of de-escalating tensions in a community, only to be sued for doing so. 

When libraries have been removed from consortiums and run by a county, they have all but fallen apart, even when the county spent millions of dollars to run it. More interesting is that libraries run by counties can still be sued for failing to include materials requested by their constituents. 

We need to stop demonizing our professional library staff and the LGBTQ+ community. We need to ignore the disingenuous campaign to vilify our librarians and work together for solutions. 

We don’t need Macon County Pizza Gate conspiracies that damage and threaten real people’s lives. Let the librarians do their jobs in peace, and instead try to help with the many actual needs of the residents of Macon County. Our county commissioners have their hands full with these, and I have confidence that they will follow all relevant laws regarding our library and our sacred First Amendment rights. 

It seems there is a case to restrict a few books in order to keep our children safe from graphically displayed sexual acts. When in doubt, take the time, follow the instructions and allow the process to work. It just might. 

Dan Kowal 


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