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August 19, 2022

8/5/2022 2:12:00 PM
Library to review book concern

For the first time since 2012, when she joined the administrative/executive team for the East Central Regional Library system, Carla Lydon has been called upon to help her Board, as it deals with a request to designate a book as inappropriate.  

The ECRL system consists of libraries in Aitkin, Pine, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Chisago counties.  The Library Board will meet early next week and discuss a “reconsideration” request for the book It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris, in regular session August 8, in Cambridge, at 9 a.m.
ECRL Executive Director Lydon said the request for reconsideration triggers the Board’s involvement. It seeks to have the book relocated out of the juvenile section, which was earlier declined by the head librarian and Lydon.  Not being appealed before the Board,  was a request involving completely eliminating the book.

ECRL Board policy says members have 10 days, from meeting to issue a written opinion on a formal request to ban or relocate.   

The collection management policy describes how the system may periodically eliminate materials which are factually inaccurate, irrelevant to the community or if their information is available elsewhere in the library system.  Staff keeps track of use of items, their condition and other factors to manage and refresh the collection throughout the years.

ECRL stands for “...free, convenient access to the world of ideas, to information and to the creative experience...of vital importance to every citizen today,” according to the on-line Board materials.  

The systemwide Intellectual Freedom position declares the library does not endorse any views or beliefs in making materials available.

Lydon stated the book being reviewed is shelved in the age 10-plus category, which is the target readership it was written for.

ECRL policy is that parents are responsible for monitoring what their youngsters read.  “From there (the shelf) it is the parents’ responsibility, not the library’s, to decide what is appropriate for their own children,” Lydon concluded.

The book “It’s Perfectly Normal’’ as first published in 1994 and publication history lists a reprint three times since.

A member of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the MN Library Association told the Press the Mayo Clinic Medical Libraries has this book in its collection, Harvard Medical School uses an edition as a teaching tool.  Kate Eidem said it is the ECRL Collection Development Policy to recognize that materials of varying complexity and format are necessary to serve all the members of the community.

The book has been on the list of America’s “most challenged books” off and on since 2005.  Those who oppose having the book in a public space say it has “graphic images” and feel it is “inappropriate.”  Supporters point to the positive messages it imparts and the importance in fighting ignorance.

The public can submit comment relative to this. Lydon said electronic comments may be sent to her email clydon@ecrlib.org and directed to members of the Board in the greeting line.  

She will make sure the Board sees comments.  

There also is a public microphone time slot at Board meetings if you want to attend and express your stance.  

Chisago County has three directors on the 18-person Board: County Commissioner Marlys Dunne, and appointed citizens Patricia Frank and Tanya Paine.

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