village to ask library to remove playboy

thursday, october 26, 2005

by daniel duggan, staff writer

the oak lawn public library has taken criticism from residents and right-wing political organizations over its decision to keep playboy magazine in its public collection.  [safe libraries:  the so-called "right-wing political organizations" believe, along with 97% of the public and now the village board, that children should not have access to material inappropriate for minors, such as playboy magazine.  on the other hand, the oak lawn public library and the organization in which it is enthralled, the ala, believes children should have access to pornography.  unbiased media would have produced the following sentence:  "the left-wing (or extremist) oak lawn public library has taken criticism from residents and mainstream political organizations over its decision to keep playboy magazine in its public collection."]

tuesday, the oak lawn village board jumped into the fray.

the board voted unanimously to send a letter to the library board asking it to reconsider a june decision to keep the magazine on its shelves.  the move was prompted by a request from a resident [safe libraries: request p1, p2].

"there is a difference between censorship and sponsorship," mayor dave heilmann said after the meeting.  "if someone wants the magazine, that's fine, they can buy it at a store."  [safe libraries:  the mayor is a rarity in american politics.  he says what he'll do then he does what he says.  we know he has acted to begin the process of the removal of playboy from the public library, and that is exactly what he said he would do:  "primary goal as an elected official:  to make the community where i was born and raised the finest anywhere to raise a family."]

library director jim casey said he'll bring the matter to the library board, but he said the village board's action doesn't guarantee the library board will change its mind.

"this is very unusual," he said.  "in my 32 years i've never seen a municipal body ask a library to remove a title."

resident mark decker has been lobbying to get playboy out of the library since march.

he went before the library board twice, asking that the magazine be removed.  that request was denied.

at its june 21 meeting, library board president patricia roberts said the library won't attempt to make decisions about what people can and cannot read.  the decision was based on statistics showing that 44 people requested the magazine over one year.  [safe librariesthe magazine was requested by adults 44 times, not by 44 adults.  but see director casey's contradictory statement that "the magazine was little used and was of little general interest to any segment of our clientele.  the fact that oak lawn public library is the only public library in the south suburban chicago area possessing the magazine reinforced that initial impression of its peripheral appeal."]

the magazine is kept behind a counter and offered to patrons over the age of 18.  [safe libraries:  it is also available to those under 18 merely upon request for specific pages.]

tuesday, decker went before the oak lawn village board, asking for support in his efforts to have the library board reconsider its decision.

he claims to have commissioned a poll of residents showing that 80 percent of people in the village don't want playboy magazine in the library.

"i think the board was listening to the will of the people tonight," he said after the meeting.

decker also asked the village to keep convenience stores from selling pornography.

the police department recently sent store owners a letter indicating that some material being sold may violate local and state obscenity laws.

trustee marjorie joy (5th) has supported decker's fight against obscenity.

tuesday, she proposed that the village board send the letter.

"i commend mr. decker, and i don't believe playboy should be available in the library," she said during the meeting.

heilmann said board members will be asked for input as to how the letter should be worded.

"certain issues strike a chord with people, this is one where people have very strong opinions," he said.  "but you can politely disagree, and we'll say that we don't know if we agree with this decision."

daniel duggan may be reached at dduggan@dailysouthtown.com or (708) 633-5969.

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