Casey Rotella Baruzzini 0

Voicing Our Objection to the JMRL April 2015 Library Display

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We object to the grossly sexual and corrupting nature of the CVille NOW display in the front lobby display case in the Central Library of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library System in April of 2015. The nature of the display broke library policy of being “all age appropriate” and in no way “indicate[d] that all aspects of the issue be presented in an equal manner.” Its placement by the front doors, its proximity to the children’s section, the inability to exit the library without passing it, and the low height and glass sides of the case made it unavoidable to all patrons, most importantly children, visiting the library. The display’s presentation of women’s sexual education was in no way appropriate for the young children encountering it while visiting the library. The paraphernalia, including sexual devices, jokes, and images, were wholly disrespectful and incompatible with the library’s stated policy.

To say that children would not be able to see it and would not be interested is easily proven false by the facts that:

a) the case is known to often feature child-friendly fare (e.g., trains and, currently, stuffed sea creatures);

b) is low enough for two-year-olds to see inside;

c) was advertised in the front with a colorful rainbow cloth and a cartoon picture of animals;

d) the condoms inside were disguised as candy wrappers and soda cans;

e) several of the books used both in the case and, more prominently, on top would be interesting to children due to their bright colors and cartoons on their covers. Any child could take those books down and easily read their sexual content, including many slang words for sexual fetishes and encouragements to engage in sexual activities even if their parents disapprove.

We ask that future displays dealing with sex directly be excluded automatically as they cannot be “all age appropriate” by their nature. We are not for banning books in the library, and only ask that these books and related items with sexually explicit material not be openly displayed in the front of the library. We do expect the library to be inclusive of all patrons, including the youngest patrons and their families. We love and care about the JMRL system and want to ensure that displays with such a sexual nature do not happen again. We already live in a culture drowning with sexual images and dialogue, and we expect that a resource cherished by every community, the local library, will at least not undermine our challenging task of educating our children about deeply personal topics in the way we as parents see best. Sexual education has always been a unique topic in education, with all parents facing individual challenges related to their own families, and we would hope that the local library, of all places, will be a resource in the raising of our children, not an ideological force that any conscientious parent, of any philosophy, should have to avoid.

In response, we would like a public statement from the library director, John Halliday, addressing how this will be prevented in the future. Thank you for your time and consideration.

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