People in Parkersburg share concerns over library; appropriate materials and possible censorship

Concerned citizens held demonstration and community members spoke at City Council’s public forum
WTAP Daybreak
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 1:23 AM EDT
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Some people in Wood County are concerned over what they say is an inappropriate book at the Parkersburg Wood County Public Library.

People gathered outside of the library Tuesday evening with signs in a demonstration.

Those at Tuesday’s demonstration held signs about their concerns for the material available at the library and urging people to vote ‘no’ on the library levy. Concerned Citizen, Glenn Newman said the rally is to bring awareness to the situation, to try to bring accountability to the library, and to get people to vote no on the library levy on the ballot.

Sean Keefe, a concerned citizen, said the demonstration is to help protect children.

“Our children should not deal with these things until they’re older. They should be allowed to grow up innocently.”

The demonstration was ahead of the Parkersburg City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Originally on the council’s agenda was a resolution to censure the library over the concern of the book.

At the beginning of the meeting, the council informed the crowd that the resolution was taken off of the agenda.

Mike Reynolds, Parkersburg City District 6, Vice President of Parkersburg City Council explained,

“Anything that’s put on the City Council agenda requires five sponsors. Some of the people after they sponsored that, they decided to pull their sponsorship from it. So that took it off of the agenda tonight.”

The council opened up the public forum for members of the community to speak who had previously signed up. There were 30 minutes given for the forum. Later, a motion was approved to allow another 30 minutes for the forum to hear from more on the list to speak.

People from all sides showed up to the meeting to speak.

For those concerned about material being available they find inappropriate, several spoke regarding the access everyone has to all material, regardless of age, and asked for the library to take accountability in protecting the children.

“The members of this community now realize that the very institutions that are supposed to protect and support our children are harming them by allowing them to be exposed to sexually explicit and inappropriate material… we will protect the children of this community,” said one community members speaking at the forum.

For those concerned with censoring material at the library, they spoke of the “slippery slope” that occurs when certain material starts to get censored, and argued it was the parents responsibility to monitor their children. Many said that it was not for the library or anyone else to say what was appropriate or inappropriate for anyone; It was for themselves to decide.

Brian Raitz, the Director of the Parkersburg Wood County Public Library explained:

“It’s the parents that should make the decision for their own children and I do not want to put myself into a position or any other group to decide what is right for your child. The best person to make that decision is the parent. Not me. Not some other group.”

And for the those speaking on behalf of the library and the levy.

They spoke about the services the library provided to the whole community.

They stated the levy provided 30 percent of the library’s funding. One community member speaking at the forum talked about the impact voting ‘no’ on the levy would have.

“...the loss of that funding will be incredibly detrimental to a lot of the good things you’ve heard and a lot of the good things

Raitz says moving forward they will be making sure every parent understands the library card application agreement. The library will also be calling every existing parent registered and explaining their policy again.

“For all those people who already have a library card, we are going to be contacting them we are going to be emailing them if we have an email, we are going to be sending them postcards letting them know what that card gives them access to.”

As for now, with the resolution being off of the agenda, the City Council will not move forward with the resolution, but Reynolds says everyone was heard.

“It will definitely be a part of the minutes, and it definitely will be part of the record for everybody that spoke for it or against it, but as far as city council, there’s no plans to talk about it again or have any kind of a vote on that issue.”

Also at the meeting:

Two resolutions were passed.

The first resolution passed, according to the council’s agenda, was for two budget revisions - one for $50,000 to purchase and install a new pump at the city park pool; and the other for $30,000 for repairs for fire trucks.

The second resolution passed was on the CDBG annual action plan and budget to move leftover funds from old project, $134,369.07 into the minor home repair line item, according to the agenda.

The council will not meet on Veteran’s day. The next meeting will be November 22, 2022.

WTAP News @ 6