Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 12, 2006

Graphic Novels Off Shelves In Marshall, MO; Evaluation Process In The Works


Dirk Deppey made the call so I didn't have to. From his Journalista:
As of 7AM Arizona time, no word had arrived via a decision made at last night's Marshall, MO Public Library Board of Trustees meeting concerning the fate of Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Craig Thompson's Blankets on the shelves, so I went ahead and called the kind folks at the Marshall Democrat-News to get the scoop. Here's what happened last night: In his opening remarks, the president of the library's Board of Directors announced a proposal to form a committee to devise a "material selection policy" to determine the guidelines used to select books for the shelves. The proposal was agreed to unanimously. Until the committee's recommendations are drawn, the two graphic novels will be kept off the shelves, and will be re-evaluated once there are guidelines with which to re-evaluate. And that, for the time being, is where the matter stands.

I had received a couple of e-mails form local folks that were dismayed by the board's decision, but if you think like the board for a moment this probably seems like a smart way to go about it. According to local media sources, despite a process by which local folks could complain about a book, no one could remember books being removed in the past on these sorts of grounds, so a better process could be useful. It remains distressing, because the books are not shelved until the time of their re-evaluation, which in a way means that for now the board gets to avoid making a decision and the heat that comes with it, but still gets the books off the shelves.

So: politically astute; discouraging result. And by putting the books into limbo, this mitigates the one positive thing about the way matters developed, that instead of some librarian making a summary decision and yanking the books, as we saw in California there was a public process involved that seemed to promise a quick resolution. Now, we're in limbo: a promise of a process. And the books aren't available.

The only odd thing about the above statement from Dirk is that I thought the library had a board of trustees and that the president was a woman, but it's hard to keep track of local committees.
posted 4:17 am PST | Permalink

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