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Tue Jun 18, 2019, 04:30 PM

Gay-themed books fuel fight over free speech at small-town library in Maine

PrinceOfWhalesHat Retweeted

grant me the self confidence of someone demanding the removal of books from a display of banned books https://www.pressherald.com/2019/06/16/a-small-town-library-in-maine-displays-gay-themed-books-and-a-controversy-erupts/

Posted June 16 | Updated June 16
Gay-themed books fuel fight over free speech at small-town library in Maine
The displays elicit challenges from leaders in Rumford. Library officials say they welcome both the dialogue and the upshot: ‘We don’t tolerate discrimination.’


Tamara Butler, left, and Mary Ann Fournier stand by a display created for LGBTQ pride month inside the Rumford Public Library. The librarians have had to defend their monthly display choices after the LBGTQ display created controversy in the town and the interim town manager questioned whether librarians were making a political statement with the display. Butler is the library director and Fournier is the adult services librarian who created the display. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

RUMFORD — It had been months since the librarians in Rumford were challenged for displaying two gay-themed books on a table near the front door, and it was back to business as usual. ... “I thought we had reconciled everything last year,” library director Tamara Butler said last week. “I thought it was over.”

But it wasn’t over. For the second time in eight months, the Rumford Public Library again found itself in the spotlight as librarians and trustees defended their rotating monthly display of books from questions and accusations that their contents were politically motivated and inappropriate.

The controversy began last fall when local pastors challenged the inclusion of two books with gay themes in a display of frequently banned books. Tensions bubbled up again this spring when the interim town manager asked if the library had a policy for book displays and, in doing so, questioned whether librarians were making political statements with their displays on “‘town time and the town’s dime.”

In response, the library’s trustees adopted a policy affirming the librarians’ right to choose the books that go on display. ... “It’s short and sweet,” said Jerry Cohen, a library trustee. “It shows that as a board we support what our staff does at the library. We don’t tolerate discrimination.”

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