A woman in Topeka, Kansas, has requested that the library board restrict other adults’ access to four books in the adult section of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. The sexual content in The Joy of Sex, Sex for Busy People, The Lesbian Kama Sutra, and The Joy of Gay Sex is fully protected under the First Amendment.
The woman who submitted the complaint says she doesn’t want the books banned, just removed to a restricted section so that patrons would have to request them from library staff. Restricting books may seem like a fine compromise, but it has a serious chilling effect on library patrons’ reading selection, and adopting such a policy would permit one person to enforce her views on everyone else.
Here is a model response from the library:
Library spokeswoman Diana Friend said some materials may seem inappropriate for children, which is why they are in a different section. Librarians have a philosophical reflex to protect patrons’ right to stroll the aisles and look at materials for themselves, she said. “Putting material behind the counter is a form of censorship,” she said.