Oklahoma City library passes new policy on children’s books

Posted on 23 Feb 2006 at 10:43pm
By Associated Presss

Materials dealing with issues such as gay parents, child abuse, drug abuse, premarital sex and 7 other topics to be put in separate space

OKLAHOMA CITY A newly adopted policy would place children’s books dealing with socially sensitive topics in a separate collection in the Oklahoma City-County library system.

Members of the Metropolitan Library Commission voted 12-to-1 on Feb. 16 for the proposal, which supporters say provided the library system with a positive way of dealing with potentially controversial issues such as homosexuality.

Four board members were absent.

A “parenting collection” will include books on homosexuality, child abuse, drug abuse, premarital sex and seven other topics.

Donna Morris, executive director, said the policy guidelines will apply only to children’s books classified as “easy,” “easy-reader” and “tween.”

Those terms refer to children’s reading levels from just learning to read to about age 12.

Before the vote, nine members of the public signed up to make comments to the commission board. Eight said they opposed the proposal and the ninth declined to speak.

Karen Parsons, who identified herself as a lesbian and a former teacher, said she was “appalled” by the proposal.

“It’s not up to the library to be the thought police or to act as parents,” Parsons said.

Board member Nancy Anthony, who served on the five-member committee that drafted the new children’s book policy, said the plan was a compromise.

“There were people on both sides who have very extreme points of view, and we all have to figure out how to get along,” Anthony said. “These books may be on a different shelf, but they are still there in the children’s area of the library and accessible to everyone.”

The library commission formed the special committee after a patron complained in April about young children having free access to library books with “homosexual themes.”

The specific books criticized were “King & King,” “Daddy’s Roommate,” “The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans” and “Heather Has Two Mommies.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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