Library Advisory Board members point to Alaska statute in circumventing review process on controversial book

The book “Let’s Talk About It” was voted to be reviewed by the municipal attorney for “inappropriate sexual content”
Alaska statute including "exploitation of minors" pointed to in Library Advisory Board's vote refer book to municipal attorney
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 8:23 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage Library Advisory Board voted on March 15 to have the municipal attorney review the legality of a book with controversial themes.

The book, “Let’s Talk About It,” includes information about relationships and sex education. It has been complained about several times by parents who say it features inappropriate sexual content. The book remains available at the public library, although it has been pulled from shelves in other states.

Libraries in the Anchorage School District have the book in a “professional collection” only, and it is not available for access by students, according to district officials.

“I’m making a formal request to have legal — outside of the Library Advisory Board — take a peek at it, take a peek at the code and give us an opinion,” Library Advisory Board Member Doug Weimann said. “These are recorded meetings and I just want to go on record as saying that I have serious concerns about us potentially doing things that are breaking the code.”

The code in this case is a section of municipal code that outlines performances and exhibitions harmful to minors and a state statute centered on unlawful exploitation of minors.

Library Advisory Board Chair Cristy Willer voted against sending the book straight to the municipal attorney without going through the established process of review that involves a decision by the library with an available appeals process — a process sidestepped by the March 15 vote.

“People tend to go to the fringe arguments around an issue,” Willer said. “Bringing people together to talk about an issue that bothers people is what needs to be happening more, not less.”

One of the board members who voted for the book to be sent to the municipal attorney maintains that he doesn’t want the book banned, but rather he doesn’t want the book in the children’s section of the public library.

"Let's Talk About It" book
"Let's Talk About It" book(Book published by Random House Graphic)

As questions about book contents arise nationwide, Willer says having an established review process is important.

“I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if it wasn’t for how deeply I support the library and all libraries,” Willer said. “I’m certainly in support of the widest possible array of books we could have.”

The Request for Reconsideration form is in the policies section on the Anchorage Public Library website.