The West Bend, Wisconsin public library battle finally ended Tuesday with the best decision possible. The Library Board voted unanimously to keep the challenged books on the shelves, “without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access,” according to the West Bend Daily News.
An inspiring demonstration of support for free speech among West Bend community members influenced the decision. Last Friday, University of Wisconsin-Madison student Jacob Jurss organized a “read-in” at the library to show support for the banned books and for the four Library Board members who were dismissed amid the controversy, accused of promoting the gay agenda when they refused to remove or relocate the LGBTQ-themed books.
The turnout for the public meeting of the library board on Tuesday is encouraging, too: about 200 people listened for two and half hours to almost 60 comments on both sides of the issue before the board voted to uphold its current rules on book removal.
After calls for public book burnings last month in West Bend, we can all celebrate, and breathe a sigh of relief, as the West Bend Parents for Free Speech have prevailed over the West Bend Citizens for Safe Libraries.
Be on the lookout next week on NCAC’s Voices Against Book Censorship (from the Kids’ Right to Read Project) for interviews with West Bend free speech supporters. We’ll talk with Mary Reilly-Kliss, a booted board member who also works at local indie bookstore, Fireside, and Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club, one of the books in the original complaint.