Dickinson County Library’s book collection questioned at board meeting

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IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) — A divided crowd of more than 50 people gathered at the Dickinson County Library to listen and share their opinions about the library’s book collections.

The discussion began when a patron challenged the graphic novel “Patience & Esther” in March for its graphic sexual imagery.

“Our council voted, four to one, to keep the book in the adult graphic novel collection,” said Megan Buck, director of the Dickinson County Library.

Buck said the original request was to remove the book or keep it locked up. Library staff moved the collection of adult graphic novels from other books aimed at younger audiences.

“At the time, we had a juvenile collection and an adult collection and there was nothing in between,” Buck said. “We released books that were more appropriate for tweens and teens and created additional browsing collections.”

Buck said there are now four graphic novel collections instead of two. Buck thinks the original issue regarding “Patience & Esther” has been resolved.

However, after the public comments made at Monday night’s Dickinson County Board meeting, a separate discussion emerged of “Patience & Esther.” The relationship in “Patience & Esther” is between two women, which has prompted comments on books dealing with 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 queried.

“They can move them to the adult section if they want, but take them out of the children’s section,” said Dickinson County resident Mary Calo.

Other customers disagreed, saying these books should remain in the designed collection.

“It’s a public library, so everyone should be represented. Whether you agree or not, a book is your choice to take home and read,” said Dickinson County resident Lynne Wilson. “Nobody should tell you what you can and can’t 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 everyone.

“A child should be able to walk into the public library and find depictions of two moms, two dads, a drag queen, a transgender person, anything that identifies with them,” Polkinghorne explained. “It should be the same way they can relate to a cis-gendered story.”

No action was taken by the library board because no books were formally challenged. A patron of the reunion pledged a $1,000 donation to the library to purchase LGBTQ+-themed books in the future.

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