In May we learned about how Glenn Beck’s extremist group 9.12 Project had convinced the board of Rancocas Valley High School in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, to pull from its library the 2002 book Revolutionary Voices, an anthology aimed at queer youth. Now the entire country library is yanking the book from shelves. Because of child pornography concerns.
Turns out Gail Sweet, the director of the Burlington County Library System, in April requested the county’s Library Commissioners pull the book — which School Library Journal in 2001 named as one of the best books for high schoolers — after hearing complaints from 9.12, according to emails obtained through a FOIA request. Those emails were between Sweet and Beverly Marinelli, described as a “grandmother” and member of 9.12. No formal request for Voices‘ removal was ever filed.
“As the copies that are checked out return, we will take them out of circulation,” explained Sweet in the email to Marinelli.
Then in a May 3 email, Sweet told staffers that they needed to “pull” Revolutionary Voices from library shelves. “How can we grab the books so they never, ever get back into ccirculation (sic),” Sweet wrote to BCLS staffers. “Copies need to totally disappear (as in not a good idea to send copies to the book sale).”
But when Andy Woodworth, a librarian at the Bordentown branch of BCLS, asked Sweet whether a formal challenge had been lodged, she said no. “It was recommended both by Marge and by me that the book be removed,” she wrote Woodworth in an email dated May 24, referring to assistant director, Margaret Delaney. “The commissioners supported our decision. There was no official challenge, no actual vote by the commissioners.” When Woodworth pressed to find out on what grounds the book was removed, Sweet responded on May 25 with two words: “Child pornography.”
She must be referring to what Voices author Amy Sonnie says is a photo of “one man bent at the waist with another man standing close behind him,” which is “a stock photo of one man hiking a football to the other.”
Snaps to librarians for having creative imaginations?