Sunday, July 09, 2006

Dust-Up Over R-rated DVDs

A public battle between the Loudoun County (VA) Board of Supervisors and the library board of trustees has developed over spending money on R-rated DVD movies.

The Supervisors voted 8-1 to ask the trustees to stop spending county dollars on adult-oriented movies. The trustees decline, and intend to buy more of the same. It's amazing that the Supervisors are almost unanimous on one side of the issue, but the trustees, I assume, are all on the other side. Where sits the Loudoun community between them?

The librarians unnerve me by resorting (as usual) to charges of "censorship" (the last refuge of scoundrel librarians). It's almost a cliche that when librarians scream "censorship!" then you know they're doing something wrong and inappropriate for their communities.

What is proper for the community? Not all libraries should have the same materials. The San Francisco Public Library should probably have a very different collection than the public libraries in Loudoun County. The reason, as anyone who reads this blog knows, is because it is the library's role to reflect its community. Are the library trustees in Loudoun reflecting their community?

According to the story:

In Loudoun, the policy espouses a "freedom to read" philosophy that encourages the acquisition of materials for "everyone within the community," said Douglas Henderson, the system's director.

"It's not our goal to have material that's appropriate only for kids 13 and under," Henderson said.

It's a somewhat strange statement from the director, isn't it? I don't see anyone asking that the collection include only materials for 13 and under. And his response begs the question why his libraries don't include X-rated materials since, according to him, the libraries must have something for "everyone within the community."

If R-rated materials are "necessary," then why not X-rated? I don't see from these comments where Henderson has given this much thought, or perhaps he's hiding something.

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