Letters to the Editor

Library board member is an embarrassment

To the Editor:

Diann Catlin is a member of the Macon County Public Library (MCPL) Board of Trustees. It is her job to act professionally and remain neutral in regards to the business of the library. She has not done this.

At the meeting on April 9, Ms. Catlin handed out a 29-page document outlining her grievances against the MCPL and Fontana Regional Library (FRL). She addressed me directly on two points and stated her First Amendment rights were violated. I will address those here.

I am the one who challenged a children’s Bible. I challenged this book knowing that my challenge would be denied. I sent a follow-up email to the board explaining that I challenged the book to point out the absurdity of challenging a book based on information gleaned from the internet that actually had nothing to do with the book. I was only doing what Ms. Catlin had done. I am sorry that she did not understand my purpose. I truly do not care if that book is in the library, nor do I care if a parent chooses to read that book to their child.

What I do care about is that my right and my child’s right to read what we choose within the library is being threatened by people like Ms. Catlin who believe their particular moral values outweigh my decision as an individual and parent.

Now I will address the pamphlet that Ms. Catlin referred to. She seems to have associated this pamphlet with me. I do not know why she made that association. Here are the key points regarding that pamphlet about condoms.

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• I moved here in 2018. That pamphlet was already in the library. I noticed it on my first trip.

• That pamphlet had a business card with it from the Western North Carolina AIDS Project (WNCAP). I do not and have never worked for that agency.

• Whether or not the pamphlet was in the teen section with the library staff’s knowledge, I do not know. The staff has changed since 2018. Maybe, Ms. Catlin should ask them and not assume things.

Personally, I did not care about that pamphlet being in the teen section. The average age of a person’s first sexual encounter in the United States is 16 for boys and 17 for girls. If Ms. Catlin did even a modicum of research, she would find these statistics online from multiple scientific sources. Since teenagers have sex, it makes sense that any materials explaining sex, birth control, etc. would be in the teen/YA section of the library including books she deems to be “sexually explicit.” Teens are not little children and should not be treated as such. It is condescending.

Now I will address Ms. Catlin’s accusation that her First Amendment rights are being violated. Since she is a member of the library board, I would like to think she has actually read the by-laws and understands the rules by which meetings are conducted. In years past, very few people attended the library board meetings, which are technically business meetings. When the public did attend, the library allowed public comment as a courtesy. Public comment was never a requirement for these meetings. As the current, completely manufactured controversy began to take hold in Macon County, public comment turned into chaos. I either have watched on video or attended board meetings where the public, especially Ms. Catlin, yell, scream and accuse the librarians of being pedophiles, groomers and sex traffickers. This type of behavior should have been stopped as soon as it started and has gone on for far too long. 

Have her and others’ First Amendment rights been violated? Absolutely not. They are all still allowed to submit what they wish to say in writing, as I have done numerous times. They do not have the right to hijack meetings and verbally abuse the board members and library staff.

Diann Catlin is an embarrassment to Macon County. She never should have been appointed to the library board and should be removed immediately.

Jennifer Germain

Macon County

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