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Sarah Palin and libraries

By / September 5, 2008



She's got the eyes of the nation on her now, so you can bet Sarah Palin's name will be popping up on blogs of every description. What you might not have expected, however, was to see her featured in a blog about libraries.

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But two days ago, less than a week since many of us heard her name for the first time, there she was, in Jessamyn West's librarian.net blog. West was writing about a Time magazine story that asked whether Palin had expressed an interest in censoring books in the town library while she was mayor of Wasilla.

The Time story suggests that Palin may have threatened to fire the town librarian for saying that censorship would be unacceptable, but subsequent news stories (such as a recent posting by the Boston Herald) don't seem to support this notion. According to the Herald, Palin did ask the librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, questions about censorship and Emmons responded by saying that any form of censorship would be entirely inappropriate.

Palin later attempted to fire Emmons (along with other public officials) but there is no evidence that the attempt to remove Emmons was related to the censorship question.

Palin later relented. Emmons kept her job only to resign at a later date.

Nor does there seem to be any evidence that any books were actually banned from the Wasilla library.

However, for librarians it's an uncomfortable topic. "Usually I’m just happy to see libraries even mentioned in national level politics, but not like this," writes West.

But it will perhaps be good for all of us to engage in a discussion about the whole notion of censorship. It could make for a very lively time on Sept. 27 when we arrive at Banned Books Week.

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