At an Aug. 17 meeting, Campbell County commissioners listened to another round of public comment about a library controversy. Several residents asked the commissioners to move questionable books in …
At an Aug. 17 meeting, Campbell County commissioners listened to another round of public comment about a library controversy. Several residents asked the commissioners to move questionable books in the children and teen sections to the adult section so they’re less accessible to young people.
Resident Doug McGee said the fact that Gillette library has received only a few challenges in the last few years “suggests the library is doing an excellent job managing the collection.”
He attended the special meeting Aug. 12 between the commissioners and the library board and was surprised that no books were formally challenged.
“It seems a very small but very vocal part of the community wishes to bypass the established procedures and claim authority over disposition of individual times in the collection, which I think would set a very dangerous precedent,” McGee said.
Mike Clymer asked the commissioners and the community to take a common sense approach.
“We can’t just censor books and throw them out of the library because you don’t like them,” he said, adding, “We can’t just pull up and say, ‘I don’t like that book because it mentions the ‘V’ word.’”
Clymer said he’s read some of the books that were brought up. He thought some were objectionable, but others were “simply hygiene books.”
And some teens might benefit from those books being available “because their parents didn’t tell them anything,” he said.
“Whether we agree or not, there are different lifestyles. People are wired different,” Clymer said, adding that books should be placed in age appropriate sections.
Chelsie Clem agreed that parents need to tell their kids about people who live alternative lifestyles, but “that doesn’t mean children have the discretion and understanding and maturity to deal with these issues.”
She said it’s OK to have those books in the library, but that they should be in the adult section.
“It’s already been proven and documented that when a child looks at porn — and don’t be telling me there is not porn in that library ... you’ll find it — it changes their DNA,” said Edie Reno.
At the special meeting, the library board told people to use the proper channels to challenge a book. At that time, only four challenges had been submitted all year.
Kevin Bennett said it’s because he’s against censorship that he didn’t file a formal complaint.
“If we were for censorship we would’ve filed hundreds of those forms,” he said.
Chelsie Clem said that a few years ago, she tried challenging a book in the children’s section that mentioned souls being harvested and disturbed her daughter. Clem filled out the form, but said the library “completely disregarded any issue that I had with it.”
Because of that experience, Clem said she didn’t do anything about the next questionable book she saw in the library.
At the special meeting, Commissioner D.G. Reardon told people to “stop talking about censoring, taking books out, burning books, and going back to the days of the Nazis.”
However, Bennett said he and his group have only asked that inappropriate books in the teen and children’s sections be moved to the adult section, that those who put the materials in the wrong section and showed poor judgment be held accountable and that policies be put in place to prevent it from happening again.
“What we’re advocating will cost the taxpayer nothing, and will save the taxpayers thousands of dollars by keeping children that are at risk from being more at risk,” he said. “It is ridiculous that we have to be called Nazis for pointing that out and trying to protect our children.”
For his part, Clymer said he doesn’t believe people like Bennett and Clem are hateful, but he also doesn’t think the other side is trying to lead children down a path of destruction.
“I think we all want our kids to prosper,” he said. “I think we all love our kids.”