The Exchange, February 28, 2018, Orange City Library Books Controversy

Feb 28, 2018

Town Square Coffeehouse and Kitchen

The Exchange 022818

Welcome to The Exchange, on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.  Today we are on the road at the Town Square Coffeehouse in Orange City, Iowa.  We are here to hold a community roundtable to talk about the recent controversy surrounding some books at the Orange City Public Library. These children’s books discuss issues that are pertinent to LGBTQ families.   A member of the community put forth a petition calling for the books to be removed or relabeled because he felt they were not appropriate for children in this community. 

Hundreds of people have signed the petition online.

The Sioux County Conservatives have gotten behind the movement to either remove the books from the library or label them differently.   The petition also asks the library to hold public discussions before new materials on LGBTQ topics are acquired.   In response, other community members, including OC Pride, an LGBTQ pride group, support keeping the books in the library, free of any special labels.  At a library board meeting last week, at least 100 community members crowded into the board room at voiced their opinions for and against the petition. Since then, the petition has gained national media attention. 

My guests are

Bonnie Reinders, a member of Sioux County Conservatives

Ryan Perz, the pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Orange City

Mike Goll—of the Group OC Pride

His Husband David Klenert

Bonnie, when did you first hear about these books?

Ryan?  What was initial reaction?

Mike, did you know that these books were in the library before the petition came up?

Since the discussion about the books and the petition to remove them came up, there has been a lot of debate about the role of librarians when it comes to controversial books.  I talked about this with American Library Association member Samantha Helmick, who is in charge of public services at the Burlington Public Library, who says librarians have some definite guidelines that help them make difficult decisions about books.

Samantha  3:50 “. . . part  of the conversation.”

That was ALA Board Member Samantha Helmick, she is a public service librarian at the Burlington Public Library.  You’re listening to the exchange on Siouxland Public Media.  I’m Mary Hartnett.  We are at the Town Square Coffeehouse in Orange City, talking about the recent petition to remove or relabel some children’s books with LGBTQ content at the public library.

Bonnie Reinders is my guest, she is with the Sioux County Conservatives, who back the petition.  Also here is Ryan Perz, pastor at Cornerstone Baptist Church.  Also with me is Mike Goll of Orange City Pride, an LGBTQ group and his husband.

Mike, Samantha Helmick talked about the need to provide resources and information to library patrons.  Did this resonate with you? 

Ryan, Samantha also talked about the role of parents to make choices for their children. Do you think that she had a good point?

Bonnie, what do you think?  Do you think that the library should take a more paternal role? 

Mike, you have talked about growing up as a gay person in this area.  How much of a difference would it have made to you to have books that related to your experiences, like these?  (names of books)

Bonnie, do you think that LGBTQ topics should be in children’s books at the library in any way?  How about adult LGBTQ books?

Ryan, you are a pastor and this a fairly conservative community.  How much sway should community standards have in making this decision?

Are there any of these books that are particularly disturbing for you?  Or is it a matter of all of them as a group? 

Is it possible for there to be some kind of compromise?It is likely that one side will get what they want, and the other won’t.  How does this kind of controversy affect your ability to get along in this small community?

Is this controversy a sign that the community is evolving?  Is that necessarily a bad thing?

There is another library board meeting next month.  What do expect to happen? 

When will a decision be made?