Nancy Kranich on Sarah Palin, would-be censor

Former ALA President Nancy Kranich has an editorial in the current issue of The Nation magazine, titled, “What’s Daddy’s Roommate Doing in Wasilla?” Kranich is writing about Sarah Palin’s attempt to censor books from the library in Wasilla when she was governor, and her subsequent attempt to have the library director, Mary Ellen Emmons, fired, for refusing to do it.

Kranich notes that Banned Books Week is coming up, the week before the Presidential election. I hope librarians, columnists, and TV types use the opportunity to make hay out of Palin’s censorship story. She can’t be allowed near the Presidency.

11 comments on “Nancy Kranich on Sarah Palin, would-be censor

  1. Actually, Palin didn’t ask for any book to be censored. This story has been pretty well debunked. Here’s a statement by the city, reporting on all the books that have been challenged at the Wasilla Public Library:

    As librarians we have an obligation to report on facts and not conjecture – we’re about information, not just pieces of it.

  2. There was a bogus list of books that Palin had tried to ban that circulated on the web, and that was clearly debunked. But nothing in this article by Nancy Kranich has been disputed.

    So I would repeat your comment back to you: “As librarians we have an obligation to report on facts and not conjecture – we’re about information, not just pieces of it.”

  3. OK. The Kranich piece states that, “A September 14, 2008, New York Times story reported that while serving on the city council, Palin complained that Daddy’s Roommate–a book that helps children understand homosexuality–did not belong in the Wasilla Public Library. When Laura Chase, Palin’s first mayoral campaign manager, asked if she had read the book, the mayor responded, “she didn’t need to read that stuff.” Chase told the New York Times that she found it “disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

    However, the official list of reconsideration requests not only doesn’t include that title, but lists one one book as being questioned during the period of Palin’s term in office: “Heather Has Two Mommies.”

    I know that a number of people have issues with Palin. But in all fairness, I don’t think banning books is among them.

  4. In all honesty, you seem to be defending her based on rather technical grounds. It was clear what her intentions were, and it was clear that she went as far as attempting to have the library director fired for not cooperating with her intentions. I really don’t understand your objection to this story. So what if the books she wanted banned didn’t end up going through a formal process of review? As mayor, she felt that she didn’t need to go through that process. Do you question Emmons’ honesty? Kranich’s reliability?

  5. I’m not so sure her intentions were all that “clear” as she has answered queries on the subject by saying her questions to the librarian were rhetorical.

    When I was the public library director in a small western city, I would get a variation on this question fairly regularly. The questioner was usually in a position of authority in the city or county – city council members, county board members, the city manager – and was usually as a result of a question or complaint that they had received from a constituent on a book that the library had. Once we discussed the function of a public library and collection development (as opposed to collection development at a school library), what steps the constituent could take to challenge a choice, and why all of this was important, the discussion was usually over.

    I am taking Palin at her word and am assuming the conversation was rather similar to those I had in that position.

    Obviously, we will need to agree to disagree on our views of Governor Palin.

  6. Unfortunately the library director has not spoken up recently on this issue, to clarify some of the questions surrounding this issue. In particular, I don’t see it is clear that Palin attempted to fire the librarian for her refusal to entertain the notion of banning books. Not that there isn’t plenty of other grounds to critize Palin.

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