Director to decide fate of controversial book at Anchorage Public Library

The library director will be the one to decide fate of a controversial book on the shelves at the Anchorage Public Library.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:11 PM AKDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 7:24 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A decision to restrict access to a sexual education graphic novel for some patrons at Anchorage libraries now rests with the Anchorage Library Director after a library committee defended the decision to keep the book in the young adult/teen collection.

“Let’s Talk About It: The Teen’s Guide to Sex, Relationships, and Being a Human,” uses both words and pictures to address subjects like pornography, sexually transmitted diseases and practices like sexting. Some of the content has drawn strong criticism — including from Doug Weimann, a member of the Library Advisory Board.

“I want it to be very clear where I stand on this, that book should not be in the hands of any child in this city,” Weimann said at the board’s last meeting.

Weimann said he believed the book violates a municipal law that bars disseminating indecent materials to minors. He said he doesn’t want to ban the book, but he does want it removed from sections of the library designated for young people.

The book was brought to the attention of the advisory board by Sami Graham, a former chief of staff for Mayor Dave Bronson who also wanted to restrict young patrons from accessing the book. Graham’s request for reconsideration ultimately sent the book to a small committee of librarians who reviewed it and decided the book should stay in the teen collection.

“Upon reading and discussing the book, we agreed that, while not to everyone’s taste, the book is appropriate for ages 14-18, depending on a teen’s maturity,” the committee wrote in a response letter.

The letter also said the library acquires materials to fulfill a large range of tastes and interests, adding that ultimately, “the responsibility for the reading, viewing, and listening choices of minors rests with their parents or legal guardians.”

Graham has appealed the committee’s decision, leaving it up to library director Virginia McClure to decide if the book should remain available to patrons under 18.

When asked Wednesday, a library spokesperson said she didn’t know when that decision would be made and that director McClure was unavailable for an interview. Graham also refused to comment, saying the library request for reconsideration is supposed to be a confidential process.