Library board denies request

Book on tape will not be banned

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Though members believe the book "Just As I Am" has little literary merit, the Moffat County Libraries Board of Directors voted unanimously against pulling it from the shelves of Craig-Moffat County Library.

The book on tape was checked out in February by Craig resident Laurie Johnson who was looking for solutions to a family member's homosexual lifestyle. She found the tape distasteful when she discovered it was a story about a man who discovers he is homosexual and spends much of his life reflecting on that decision. What Johnson expected, she said, was a book that defined homosexuality and told the reader how to deal with it.

She called the book morally wrong and sick.

"If you're going to have homosexual books in your library, they should be on studies about why and how a person may come to think they are homosexual and how they can get help," Johnson stated in a letter to the library asking that the book be banned.

Library Director Donna Watkins publicly opposed the banning of a book based on personal beliefs, saying it is her job to offer a balanced collection that responds to a wide variety of tastes and interests.

The Board of Directors met Monday night and members voted unanimously against pulling the book from the shelves.

"I can understand Mrs. Johnson's concerns," Board Member Mary Karen Soloman said. "I found the book rather worthless and full of stereotypes."

She did not recommend the library censor the book.

"If we restrict the collection to works of genuine originality and literary worth, it would be a small, outdated collection," she said. "I feel a book should be actively dangerous to be censored."

Board member Gary Loyd also said although the book was not well-written and can be unpleasant to read, it addresses certain socially important issues.

It is not a book either board member said they would encourage anyone to read.

According to board members, a book has never been banned in the Moffat County libraries, but they commended Johnson for coming forward.

"I commend her for her courage," Chairman David Longwell said. "She came here as a concerned citizen of our county and we ought to encourage that."

In other business, the board decided to insert public comment as an agenda item because of the February meeting when public comment was out of control. Longwell said that type of meeting makes the meeting records difficult to understand or transcribe.

"That is the only time the public will be invited to make a comment during a meeting," he said. Board members may solicit public comment during the meeting.

The board also decided its bylaws would indicate that three of the seven board members must come from outside the city limits of Craig, but within the boundaries of Moffat County and that one of those three members must be a resident of Maybell. The board considered offering a position to a Dinosaur resident, but board member Gary Nall said past experience has shown not many are willing to come that distance to serve.

Instead, board members decided not to mention Dinosaur specifically, but to post notices around the town when there is a board vacancy, hoping to stir interest.

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