Dissolving library weakens community
March 30, 2023
To the Editor
The Dayton Memorial Library has been a hot topic of conversation for months now. These conversations are important. Expressing our concerns is a part of civic discourse as long as we do so respectfully. My concern is access to information. Did you know that there are over 29,000 items available through our library district? (For perspective, the controversy has been over 11 books.) What a resource for our community! Our librarians are also an excellent resource for library patrons. They are knowledgeable and helpful. Thank you, librarians!
The books that have caused controversy are shelved in the Lower Level Library, where books for children and adolescents are available. Parents have expressed concern that their children might be exposed to sexually explicit information, specifically in one of the books in question. Adolescents are insatiably curious, especially when something becomes controversial or is said to be “off limits” by a parent. Some young people may seek books simply out of curiosity; some seek to understand or normalize feelings they are struggling with. Some might find the information “gross,” as at least one concerned citizen did. However, those who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity may find the information a lifeline. Literally. “Grooming” has also been expressed as a concern. Since “grooming” is defined by many resources as befriending a young person for criminal sexual activity, a book cannot groom. Information cannot groom. Children who are born straight are straight. Children who are born LGBTQ are LGBTQ. Exposure to books, no matter the content, cannot make a child gay or transgender. Accessing such information may be, however, a critical step to self-acceptance. Isn’t the mental health and well-being of a few children worth some discomfort on the part of the community? I believe that even one child lost to self-loathing is too many. Who are we trying to protect? If the answer is all children, then access to books that support understanding and self-acceptance are an important part of a library’s circulation.
Let’s build community with open, respectful discussions and support for our resources, such as the library. To dissolve the library district, as a recent petition supports doing, weakens community.