Dickinson County Library’s book collection questioned during board meeting
The discussion began when a patron challenged the graphic novel “Patience & Esther” in March for its graphic sexual images, but has now grown to include LGBTQ+ books
IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) - A divided crowd of more than 50 people gathered at the Dickinson County Library to listen and share their opinions on the library’s book collections.
The discussion began when a patron challenged the graphic novel “Patience & Esther” in March for its graphic sexual images.
“Our board did vote, four to one, to keep the book in the adult graphic novel collection,” said Megan Buck, Dickinson County Library Director.
Buck said the original request was to remove the book or keep it under lock and key. Library staff relocated the adult graphic novels collection from other books meant for younger audiences.
“At the time, we had a juvenile collection and an adult collection and there was nothing in between,” Buck said. “We pulled out books that were more appropriate for tweens and teen audiences and created additional browsing collections.”
Buck said there are now four graphic novel collections instead of two. Buck believes the original issue about “Patience & Esther” has been resolved.
However, after public comments made at Monday night’s Dickinson County board meeting, a separate discussion emerged from “Patience & Esther.” The relationship in “Patience & Esther” is between two women, which has sparked comments about books addressing LGBTQ+ topics.
Specific books like “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and children’s books “My Two Dads and Me” and “My Two Moms and Me” were questioned.
“They can move them to the adult section if they want, but get them out of the children’s section,” said Mary Calo, Dickinson County resident.
Other patrons disagreed, saying those books should remain in the designed collection.
“It is a public library, so everybody should be represented. Whether you agree or don’t, a book is your choice to take out and read,” said Lynne Wilson, Dickinson County resident. “No one should tell you what you can and cannot read.”
Erin Polkinghorne identifies as a pansexual transgender woman. She grew up in Dickinson County 39 years ago and said books should be accessible to all.
“A child should be able to walk into the public library and find representations of two moms, two dads, a drag queen, a transgender person, whatever identifies with them,” Polkinghorne explained. “It should be the same way they can identify with a cis-gendered story.”
No action was taken by the library board because no books were formally challenged. A patron at the meeting pledged a $1,000 donation to the library to purchase books with an LGBTQ+ theme in the future.
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