Fear: Library trustees made right call on book
Donna Crocker is learning a lesson this week, and it is one that SHOULD sink in with folks everywhere who hope to ban or exclude books as a means of stopping the spread of certain information and ideas. But let’s not hold our breath.
Crocker is director of the Morgan County (W.Va.) Public Library. Last week, she refused to accept into her library’s collection a donated copy of Bob Woodward’s new book “Fear.” Crocker never fully explained her decision, but feebly mentioned the library in Berkeley Springs does “have other Trump books.”
Any astute observer of human nature can guess what happened next.
“More and more people want to read it now,” according to Connie Perry, the president of the library’s board of trustees.
Perry and her fellow trustees have ensured there are now two copies of “Fear” in the library’s collection; and they say they have “corrected” the problem with Crocker.
Morgan County voted 75 percent for President Donald Trump during the 2016 election. Perhaps that had something to do with Crocker’s decision. It should have played no part at all.
James LaRue, director of the office of Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, speaking to another publication, explained, “It may well be that there is a majoritarian view on this issue, but that does not mean that a library should sacrifice its obligation to present the other side. Our whole credibility as an institution rests on our willingness to provide access to the most current information in our culture.”
Next week is Banned Books Week. Crocker is likely aware of the event, as it is an American Library Association project. Time and again the list of top ten most challenged books in a given year closely matches the top ten best sellers lists. And, it is worth noting, just a few years back the Holy Bible ranked sixth on the list of challenged books.
Attempting to make a book unavailable to the public is wrong no matter the reasons for wanting it kept in the dark.
Morgan County library trustees were right to make sure Crocker understood that, and to make sure members of the public had the chance to make their own decisions about the book.