Some LGBTQ books at Orange City library causing a stir

Published: Feb. 21, 2018 at 9:16 PM CST
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Some community members in Orange City say they want books geared toward the LGBTQ community put in a separate section of the library and clearly labeled.

"I first heard about the petition about a week and a half ago," Amanda Vazquez, Orange City Public Library Director said.

A petition created by Dr. Terry Chi, a professor at Northwestern College in Orange City to clearly label and put all LGBTQ books in one section of the library, plus ask for public input on what books the library is acquiring, has hundreds of signatures. Chi's petition says that some of the books the library carries are not in line with the Christian values of the community.

The petition includes a list of 168 books the library has throughout its facility with LGBTQ messages or content.

Chi was not available for an interview Wednesday.

The online petition with the full detail is under "related links." Chi added a note to the petition that he closed it to signatures due to comments on an ad posted by the Sioux County Conservatives that included his petition.

The petition is making waves though, a few more people turned out for Tuesday's monthly Board of Trustees meeting at the library.

"We allowed time for public comment so we had over a hundred people in attendance which is much higher than normal," Vazquez said.

She said about 20 people offered public comment on the petition.

One church leader said he is concerned about the content, particularly in some of the books in the children's section of the library.

"The concern that I have is a book like, [Two] 'Boys Kissing' which has been brought to this library is just as out of place and dangerous and getting away from the new life as a book like, "Girls Getting Drunk," said Pastor John Klompien, of Calvary Christian Reform Church.

Klompien said he is guided by scripture from the Bible, specifically in Corinthians.

Klompien said he was a parent. KSFY News reporter Erika Leigh asked Klompien some additional questions.

Erika: Should these books be replaced with other educational materials, or do you think there's no room for sexuality-based literature in a public library?

Klompien did not answer for several minutes.

Erika: It's a tough question to answer, right? As parent, you hope that your children have access to whatever they need to learn about themselves but at the same time as a minister your faith doesn't call for books that are of this nature.

Klompien: Hmm.

Right now the library organizes its books based on format and audience and has adopted the American Library Association's "Bill of Rights" which guarantees patrons access to any materials they want. Vazquez said the library has a process to determine what comes and goes in the library and the board will make the final decision.

"That guides how we purchase new materials and how we remove materials from the library," Vazquez said.

Right now, the board has not made any decision. Vazquez said they will consider public comment from yesterday's meeting and the community's opinion on the topic, but will also review its material-gathering process and confer with other libraries in Iowa to ensure that its offerings are in line with others across the state.

Iowa Library Association Vice President Dan Chibnall offered KSFY this statement:

"The Iowa Library Association believes that libraries serve the entire community and do not advocate one point of view over another. We, as librarians and library staff, want the public to have access to books and other materials as part of our Library Bill of Rights. Libraries should represent their communities through their collections, which should contain a wide variety of perspectives, ideas, and beliefs to meet the various needs of those communities. We believe in building bridges to information and not in erecting barriers around information."