library is for adults, too � not just kids

thursday, september 22, 2005

by naomi miller

i am honestly disappointed in mark decker and his supporters who are attempting to censor the oak lawn public library's magazines.  my daughter is a college student living in oak lawn and has kept me informed of everything that has been said about the library there.  neither she nor i are offended that the library carries playboy.  we are not talking about hustler or penthouse, magazines with no redeeming literary value.

my daughter has used the library's back issues of playboy as a paper source because of exclusive interviews it had conducted with public figures.  but even if we did have a problem with playboy at the library, we would never presume to censor the entire community's access to it.

the point of the library is freedom of information.  that includes freedom for adults to read adult-appropriate material, not just freedom for children to have a place to hear stories.  it is the parents' job to supervise their children in any public place, including a library.  it is not the library's job to remove anything that might be potentially stimulating to readers just in case someone leaves a child unattended.

if that were the case, i'd hazard a guess that most of the library's books, magazines, movies and cds would disappear. there go the art books, the historical accounts of wartime violence against women and the birth-control controversy of the early 20th century, all movies without a g rating, any women's magazine that dares to illustrate how to perform a breast self-exam, and any internet site that contains something that might be misconstrued by a filter to be offensive.  i am an adult, i pay my taxes, and i would rather public libraries not be child-proof.

when mark decker was interviewed on wls-am radio (720) [sic] recently, he advocated a lot of changes to the oak lawn library beyond removing playboy.  in response to the question of what would happen if the computers were filtered and someone could not research their breast cancer diagnosis, mr. decker states that people should not be researching such subjects by themselves � they should talk to their doctor.

herein lies the difference between the library and would-be censors like mark decker. the library does not judge the information given but simply makes it available and trusts the adults of the community with it.  it does not censor, does not wish there to be a middle man involved between you and whatever you need to know. mark decker and his supporters do not trust you or me as adults, and this is more offensive to me than any photo of a bared breast.

naomi miller is a chicago resident.

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[mark decker responds.]

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