Controversial library material for children was addressed at the June 28 weekly business session of the Board of Josephine County Commissioners when Cave Junction resident Dave Blaylock reported what he believed was “obsene material” in the young adults’ section of the Cave Junction Library.
Blaylock provided the commissioners with photocopies of the material in question and then quoted the library’s statement on who the young adults’ section is catered to: “Displays in the young adult collection are selected to serve the needs of individuals from middle school through high school age,” noting that middle school starts at fifth grade at Lorna Byrne.
“The pictures you have there in front of you are aimed at 10-year-olds,” Blaylock lamented. “This type of reading material for our children is a focused assault upon our kids. That can’t be argued at this point; it’s beyond contestation. There is a push to get children viewing this kind of material. And this is mild compared to some of the stuff that is available.”
Blaylock opined that “this is something that is going on across America right now,” and the commissioners shared his concerns.
“I don’t know what the definition of adult is anymore. It used to be 21, then it’s 18, now it’s 15, and you never know what the definition of adult is,” said Commissioner Dan DeYoung. “To me, exposing people of that age to things of this caliber is probably next to one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen in my life.”
DeYoung went on, “I think you’re absolutely right. I think it’s going on all the way across America and people say, ‘Oh, you’re anti-woke and you’re anti-this. You know what? This is part of woke right here. And if you don’t want me to be anti-something, then get that crap out of it, out of your doctrine.”
“On the materials that are in our libraries and schools now, I definitely question it… We have to hold those people accountable,” advised Board Chair Herman Baertschiger.
“This state has lost its way. This Legislature just finished their session and coming out of it, they now have made it a policy in Oregon that children can make their own decisions on their sexual orientation, sex changes, having an abortion and no age limit. Oregon Legislature says that your 10-year-old can make those decisions without the consent or knowledge of parents. And what is absolutely baffling to me is those same legislators that voted for that come back and say, ‘Oh, you can’t buy alcohol or tobacco until you’re 21 because you’re not mature enough to make that decision.’ How do you reconcile those two thought processes? In my opinion, it’s embarrassing and Oregon has certainly lost its way.”
In a follow up interview with Illinois Valley Library Branch Manager Roberta Lee, the Illinois Valley News questioned the incident and found out that Blaylock had brought the book in question to the library with his concerns.
Blaylock is a regular patron to the Cave Junction Library and had a very respectful conversation with Lee about the placement of the book in the young adult section. Lee explained that the young adult section of the library is intended for the age group “13 and up and is not for 10-year-olds.” Lee emphasized that if you bring your 10-year-old grandchild to the library for advanced reading material, the librarians are happy to find advanced books for this age group in the children’s section.
Lee explained that copying one drawing panel of the book in question and then discussing it, is taking it out of context. The book is very scientific- explaining chromosomes and hormones – and also tells the journey of how the author felt being different from the norm in society when going to school, the doctor, dating, and other life situations in regards to their gender. “The author of the book was very brave in sharing their journey,” expressed Lee.
“The library staff encourages the community to take the opportunity to educate and guide their own families and children. Parents get to raise and protect their own children and not let other parents make choices for your child. We want to give the community the opportunity to choose for themselves,” said Lee, adding, “We need to protect intellectual freedom and protect rights for all.” SEE LIBRARY ON A-8
According to Lee, Baylock was given a “Request for Reconsideration” form to submit to the library board. This form was created for library patrons that have concerns about the placement of a book. “Maybe the book in question is in the wrong section and it could be moved to the adult section upon review,” said Lee. “But it is not the job of librarians to censor materials. I suggest you supervise everything your children read. I did that with my children.”
In another library topic, five properties were annexed into the Josephine Community Library by petition of landowner during the June 28 Board of Josephine County Commissioners’ weekly business session, held at Anne G. Basker Auditorium in Grants Pass.
These included: a 5.06-acre property on Lakeshore Dr in Selma owned by Jerry Cortapassi; a 1.89-acre property on Gary Ln in Merlin owned by Neil Hooper; a 2.5-acre property on Azalea Dr in Grants Pass owned by Helen Kruse; a 17.54-acre property on Rockydale Rd in Cave Junction owned by Shapour Mirzai & Evelyn Burden; and a 2.98-acre property on Rockydale Rd in Cave Junction owned by Grant & Rachel Neemann.
Despite the commissioners and JoCo Community Library Director Kate Lasky explaining on a multitude of occasions how annexations into the library district work and what benefits are bestowed upon the landowners who opt in, meeting frequenter Judy Ahrens raised her suspicions about the agendas held by those who seek to have their properties annexed.
“Going back to my dad’s philosophy – nothing’s free in life. And when you do get something where somebody’s donating, I’m just wondering: ‘What are they getting out of it themselves?’ I don’t know. I just don’t understand the acreage and why the acreage, and who are these people? To me, they’re just names on paper. If I ran into them in the store, I wouldn’t know them. I don’t know if you would either.”
“Just to correct you, Judy, they’re not donating their property,” Baertschiger responded. “They’re just incorporating their property within the district.”
DeYoung added, “They’re agreeing to pay the property taxes involved with being in a library district. They are outside the designated district but they do want to be in and contribute property taxes to the library.
“And you want to know what they get? They get to be able to go and use the library free of charge. And you can go use the library at any time, but you will have to pay a fee and buy a library card, and they don’t have to. So they’re people that are interested in the library, interested in reading, and I’m surprised you’re not part of that.”
Baertschiger endorsed the annexation process, saying, “I like giving people choices, whether they want to be in it or out of it. And so that’s why I really like this program.”