A community campaign launched on social media by resident Sal Galanti erupted at the Park Ridge Library Board meeting at City Hall on March 15. Galanti calls his movement “Freedom Park Ridge” but it focuses on the library’s collection and “protecting” young people from being exposed to materials that discuss various types of sexuality which might be found in the children’s section or the teen loft.
Galanti did not want the materials to be in the public library, arguing that a parent could introduce the topics at an age appropriate time at home, but children should not be exposed to texts that talked about sexual attraction, gender orientation, etc.
In a discussion that lasted more than an hour, teens and parents spoke on their experiences. Only one other speaker supported Galanti’s opinion.
Most spoke with great support for the librarians at the Park Ridge Library and their careful selection of materials available in the collection. Some adults mentioned author Judy Blume, whose books had been available when they were growing up.
Students who attend Maine South High School said by the time they get there, if they are sorting out their own gender orientation, they would like to have access to reading materials which allow them to understand different perspectives and their own feelings. Too often, it was mentioned, they are ridiculed in the halls or the lunchroom by teasing and taunting classmates.
Galanti’s criteria, parents argued, would prevent having anything talking about young love, including William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” They argued that if he personally wants to censor what books his children read, he should accompany them to the library and choose what books they personally would be allowed to take home to read.
Andrea Cline, a scientist by profession, said any kind of censorship or pulling materials out of the library collection could lead to other removals, such as banning books about scientific topics.
The library trustees would not discuss the presentations or additional emails they had received over the weekend. They did agree, as they continue to review library policies at their monthly committee meetings to focus in April on any changes or clarifications in the collection policy.
Board President Lauren Rapisand said, “We have a community that cares.” She thanked the staff who review the materials and place them in age-appropriate collections.
“The Park Ridge Library is for everyone.”
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