Kokish: Families should decide when children should have access to books

Trish O’Grady, John Lepkowski, and friends want to keep the graphic novel series, “Prison School,” away from minors because O’Grady considers the series “pornography” (Post Independent, Sept. 5). She acknowledged having failed to read the books she wants restricted. 

Apparently, she has also failed to read a legal definition of pornography. I have read it, and I’ve also read several of the books.  I found them repetitive, uninteresting, and not even close to meeting the legal standard for pornography. 

I can understand why O’Grady/Lepkowski might not want their children to have access to these books. I, however, want my children to have access to all the information they are interested in. In my educated view (I taught human development for UC Davis Extension), interest defines readiness. Clearly, O’Grady/Lepkowski and I have widely-divergent views about child development. In a democracy, both our views must be able to thrive, and families – not public libraries – ought to decide when children should have access to information. It’s fine for O’Grady/Lepkowski to restrict their children’s access but unacceptable for them to do so at the cost of my children’s access. 

Thankfully, the American Library Association is well aware of parents’ legal and moral right to determine what their children have access to. One of the association’s core values is “democracy.” In that regard, its literature states: “A democracy presupposes an informed citizenry. The First Amendment mandates the right of all persons to free expression, and the corollary right to receive the constitutionally protected expression of others. The publicly-supported library provides free and equal access to information for all people of the community the library serves.” 

Or, as library executive director Jamie Larue told the Sopris Sun (Sept. 13), ” … libraries don’t exist to restrict access. We exist to expand access.”

Ron Kokish