Hundreds turn up at Meridian Library meeting to discuss ‘pornographic’ book collection

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More than 200 people showed up at Meridian Library’s board meeting on Wednesday night to voice their opinions on the library’s book collection.

The high turnout was spurred in part by claims the library distributes “junk-filled pornography,” according to to a flyer distributed by the Idaho Liberty Dogs, a popular conservative group. The complaint came from an organized group of concerned Meridian parents.

The Idaho Liberty Dogs flyer included examples of five so-called smut books, largely focused on LGBTQ+ relationships and sex.

The list included:

  • “Gender Queer: A Memoir”, by Maia Kobabe.
  • “Sex is a Fun Word: A Book About Bodies, Feelings, and YOU,” by Cory Silverberg.
  • “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan.
  • “Big Hard Sex Criminals”, by Matt Fraction.
  • Captain Underpants by David Pilkey.

Another book mentioned by many at the meeting was “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health,” by Robie H. Harris, a book used by some parents to teach their children about sex. This book was at the center of controversy and was pulled from shelves across the country, including those of the Nampa School District.

Idaho Statesman’s Becca Savransky and Rachel Spacek reported last week that a member of the group mobilizing against books has threatened to defund the library district, but has yet to take action to do so. The group later clarified in a social media post that funding libraries was not its goal, according to the report.

Wednesday’s meeting was held in the Cherry Lane Library District Conference Room. The room quickly reached capacity, and attendees streamed into the lobby, where the library provided public comment cards and several laptops to livestream the meeting. Dozens of people left the meeting to live stream from their own devices.

The majority of customers left the meeting after public comments closed.

The board did not vote on removing or banning any material, and no related items appeared on the agenda.

Wednesday’s meeting quickly reached capacity, and patrons flocked to the lobby to fill out public comment cards and wait for a seat in the conference room.

The public comment portion of the meeting lasted over two hours of three-minute comments. The comments covered all sides of the argument.

Many have expressed support for the library and its “diverse collection” of materials. Others expressed concerns about the hardware, but felt the books should be placed on higher shelves or moved to an adult section, not removed entirely.

According to the Statesman report, “The Adventures of Captain Slip” and “Sex is a Funny Word” are listed as children’s books in the children’s section of the library catalog. The rest of the books are in the teen or adult sections, or not found at all in the Meridian Library.

One commenter suggested that if the library was to store “liberal” books, it should also store conservative children’s books. Another read a list of grooming tactics he said he found on the FBI website, comparing it to the library making the books available to patrons.

Two other reviewers spoke about their personal experiences of being groomed and abused as children, saying the books listed are not examples of grooming. Several members of the LGBTQ+ community have also spoken out against the removal of the material.

At the end of the meeting, Board Chair Megan Larsen spoke about the Nampa Library District 2008 decision to restrict certain materials. The board withdrew two books, but later reversed the decision due to legal issues.

The chair said she intended to do more research and acknowledged that this would likely be an ongoing discussion. The meeting lasted nearly three hours, ending at 9:40 p.m.

Sadie Ditteber

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