Magazine article American Libraries

Trustee Censured for Removing Papers

Magazine article American Libraries

Trustee Censured for Removing Papers

Article excerpt

The board of the Cook Memorial Public Library District formally censured its Vice President Jack Martin September 16 for "censoring the library's holdings" without proper authority and for about a dozen other actions, including a possible violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act. On August 23, Martin confiscated copies of the August 22 Reader's Guide, a suburban alternative newsweekly containing theater and concert listings that is distributed at the Libertyville, Illinois, library and other drop-off points in the community.

What prompted Martin was the cover headline, "Dial M for Motherfucker," that introduced an article about a toll-free phone number that invites callers to swear into a voice mailbox. The story also presented a brief history of profanity that contained numerous expletives.

Two days earlier, an unnamed patron had removed the entire stack of copies of the paper from the front circulation desk. Martin told American Libraries that the patron called him afterwards and told him he was "so outraged that he threw them all in the garbage can outside the front door." Another patron contacted him later, saying she was upset that the papers were out in the open where her children could see them.

Library Director Fred Byergo told AL that staffers had rounded up additional copies of the paper and he moved them to the adult fiction room where other periodicals are kept. "I think the publication has enough good information in it to be worthy of display in the library," Byergo said in the August 27 Arlington Heights Daily Herald. "We took what action we thought appropriate to keep it from being seen by young children."

When Martin came to the library for a trustee meeting, he took one copy from the fiction room to show to two other board members, who asked where he had found it. "We go upstairs and here's this stack of five or six of them," he told AL. "They asked what they are doing here and I said, 'That's a very good question.' I gave them each a copy, I kept a copy, and the two remaining copies I took with me. When the story broke in the newspapers, they wrote that 'Jack Martin disposed of all the copies.'"

A question of placement

Martin claims his was a commonsense approach: "Someone on the staff should have realized that the headline on that publication was out of character, vulgar, maybe distasteful. What they should have done is set it on the table behind the circulation desk and put out a sign saying 'The Reader's Guide is here; please ask for it. …

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