Fighting Book Bans, Librarians Rally to Their Own Defense - The World News

Fighting Book Bans, Librarians Rally to Their Own Defense

The award, publicized in the local media, made Ms. Neujahr a target. The Idaho Tribune, an outlet that describes itself as “conservative journalism that supports and defends the Christian values that Idaho loves and cherishes,” called the prize a “groomer award.”

Personal contacts for Ms. Neujahr’s family members appeared on websites attacking her. One online commenter threatened “to gut me like a fish,” she recalled. She offered to buy a security system for her in-laws.

In May, after two religious conservatives who had sought to remove books from the libraries won seats on the library board, its members began overhauling the library’s policies on collections. A draft, viewed by The New York Times, seeks to ban materials containing “any description, exhibition, presentation or representation, in whatever form, of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement or sadomasochistic abuse,” including “buttocks with less than a fully opaque covering.” The language echoes the BookLooks rating system.

In January, the new library chairwoman, Rachelle Ottosen, traveled to Boise to testify in favor of a proposed state bill that would empower parents to collect $250 in damages from a school or public library if their child gains access to materials “harmful to minors.” But more people testified against the bill, and a previous version of it was vetoed by the governor last year. Ms. Ottosen declined to be interviewed, or to answer emailed questions.

Ms. Neujahr left the Community Library Network in Idaho in the fall, and now leads youth services for the library system in Spokane, Wash., a half-hour drive away. The job is a promotion, but she acknowledges her disappointment with Ms. Ottosen, who made clear that the Rainbow Squad was no longer welcome at the library. She still runs the group, but it now meets at Calvary Lutheran Church in Post Falls. The congregation invited the teens to meet there, and has given them snacks and art supplies.

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