Local News

Cumberland Library Board Votes to Keep Controversial Books on Shelves

Posted July 14, 1999

— Some parents say sexually explicit material should not be within the reach of children. Thursday, Cumberland County Library leaders agreed to keep three controversial book titles on the shelves.

It came down to First Amendment rights. Members of the library's board of directors believe library users should be able to choose whether to read the controversial material.

Catherine Howe takes her two young children to the library at least once a week. She does not want books containing sexually explicit material accessible to her kids.

"I think they should be put away in an adult only section if they are even here," she says.

The board of directors unanimously agreed not to create an adults only section and to keep three books that deal with adult sexuality in circulation.

"They are not books I may choose to read but I do believe I should have the choice," says board member Pattie Monroe.

That upsets some residents, including Reverend Jeff Long who worries that children will stumble onto the controversial books.

"It's quite shocking, some of the content they'll encounter and I think it's damaging to them psychologically," says Long.

Not only was it a First Amendment issue for board members, but the county attorney says it could become a legal issue too.

The board also decided not to create a citizens committee to review questionable titles.

The decisions were given good reviews by a majority of residents in attendance.

"To have certain books restricted -- a person can't be well-rounded with their own opinion. They have someone else's opinion or society's opinion not their own," says resident Stuart Shaw.

The Cumberland County Library Board also decided not to install Internet filters on children's computers.

More than 200 children's Web sites are already bookmarked on those computers, and the staff is looking into other ways to make sure pornographic sites cannot be accessed.

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