By Ashley Rader
As long as there has been the written word, some have challenged what is appropriate for others to read.
Nationwide, public and school libraries frequently hear challenges from concerned community members or parents about certain items in circulation.
In Watauga County, N.C., a parent is challenging the use of “The House of the Spirits” in a classroom; in November, officials rejected the presence of “Eleanor & Park” in the Anoka, Minn., High School library; and earlier this year, Randolph County, N.C., school officials briefly banned Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.”
Elizabethton, however, finds those challenges exceedingly rare.
“I have never had to deal with a challenged book,” Elizabethton High School Media Specialist Serena Little said.
And at the Elizabethton Carter County Public Library, Director Melanie Goff said that since she took over as director in October 2010, she has only received one complaint, over the language in a DVD movie. Goff added that during the more than 30 years Joyce White served as ECCPL director she received just one challenge involving a book.
Little, who has worked in the EHS school library for nine years, said, “It doesn’t happen that often. I do know a few times through the English classes parents may have objections to a book their student has to read for a lesson. In those cases, an alternate book is offered for credit, but that doesn’t happen very often either.”
Goff said she believes the lack of challenges at her facility stems from the public’s understanding that the library serves a wide range of patrons.
“The staff work to make sure the needs of the community are met,” Goff said. “The staff here does an exceptional job recognizing what is needed and what the community’s expectations are. Also, the community understands that we need to serve diverse needs. People have different standards and needs to be met.”