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CTLA Intellectual Freedom Committee Co-Chair Speaks Out

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Staff Writer

Goshen’s library controversy has become statewide news, and one of the places where it has raised eyebrows is in the CT Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee. Lindsay Delligan, Co-Chair of the committee, said she was contacted by “a concerned member of the community” to ask advice on how to approach the issues surrounding Gender Queer. “It is the American Library Association’s #1 Most Challenged book,” Delligan told the Goshen News, in an April 23rd telephone interview.

Q: So what advice did you give?

A: “Our advice is always to follow your policy. The Goshen Library has a full slate of policies…that govern the decisions that are made within the library. They have a Collection Development policy that guides the Library Director in making decisions about what items are selected and should be added to the library, and they also have a Request for Reconsideration policy…If a community member has concerns about a particular item they can fill out a form and then the forms are submitted to the Library Director for her expert opinion and expert decision…She does have a Master’s Degree in Library Science…If there is still a problem, then it goes to the Library Board for an ultimate decision.”

Q: So the Library Board has the power to overrule the Library Director?

A: Ultimately the Library Board are her boss. She actually answers to two bosses: She is an employee of the Town of Goshen, so she answers to the Board of Selectmen, and she also answers to the Library Board.

Q: Many of the Reconsideration forms did not demand removal of the book but wanted age restrictions for access. Placing it farther away from the Children’s section makes sense, because the Young Adults section is just 5 feet away from the Children’s section and this book looks like a comic book. But for teens, particularly if you’re one of these people going through this in your life and this book could be helpful, isn’t access the real question?

A: By determining to restrict access to the item, that is censorship. By the Library Board having discussion…to put the book on a very high shelf or restrict it by putting it behind the circulation desk, that is 100% absolutely censorship, and that is illegal. That is a violation of the residents of Goshen’s First Amendment rights.

Q: It seems like the librarian is almost being accused of dispensing pornography to children…

A: It’s not pornography. It’s an award-winning book…and it has serious literary and educational value, content-wise. That was the determination made by not one, but two Goshen Library Directors. It was the previous Library Director, Lynn Steinmayer, who added it to the library collection. It is the current Library Director, Tabitha Guarnieri’s recommendation to keep it within the collection. It’s not pornography under current CT state statutes.

Q: What are your thoughts about the Library Board requiring the Director to get their approval for all library programs before she’s allowed to schedule any speakers?

A: I have not heard of any other library in the State of Connecticut that has that requirement. It’s my personal opinion that that is ridiculous, and it is a massive overreach by the Library Board.

Q: Are you aware of the controversy regarding the Friends of the Library and their removal from the library website?

They’re attempting to divorce and distance themselves from the Friends of the Library (FOL). However, the FOL, it’s my understanding…pay for all of the library programs. So I don’t see how the Board can demand approval of library programs that are paid for by the Friends, but not include the Friends. They are intrinsically linked to the Friends.