Summer Reading Program Cancelled – Harassing phone calls likened to “bomb threats”

Having a policy for when you do and do not limit access to materials is always a good thing. This includes your book selection policy, your Internet use policy and your “when do we cancel a summer program when we’re getting harassed by people who think yoga is a religion”? I understand that dealing with a steady stream of phone calls and emails is unpleasant for the South Carolina library that cancelled its summer reading program due to this type of harassment from one local church, but I really wish they’d taken more of a stand and not likened this sort of pressure from one aggressive group as tantamount to a bomb threat.

The librarians got nervous and decided to cancel all the Thursdays.

“They were talking about picketing the library,” the library system director told a newspaper reporter.

The minister said he didn’t mean things to go that far, that he and his congregation had no problem with all the other Thursdays, only the evil tarot card one.

“We weren’t against the reading program at all,” he told the reporter. “We just want our children being taught the right things …”

8 thoughts on “Summer Reading Program Cancelled – Harassing phone calls likened to “bomb threats”

  1. I don’t know. I think it could be a reasonably savvy response: “we expect the community we serve to treat us as professionals, and our patrons as adults.”

    Look who’s gotten all defensive in that article. It’s not the library! And that’s as it should be.

  2. That’s an interesting way to look at it. I guess I saw the cancellation as affecting the kids who were not the ones complaining. Seeing it as a direct affront to the community seems like a better read on why the cancellation might be effective. I wonder if this is one of those “shot across the bow” things and they’ll work something out that is more moderate?

  3. The best thing about this is the equation of religious bullies with terrorists. From the School Library Journal article you link to:

    “If you have an anonymous call of a bomb, what do you do?” asks Library Director Marguerite Keenan, explaining her decision to cancel the YA programs. “You clear the building, you close the building for the protection of the children. And that’s hugely sad.”

  4. the thing about the cancelling of the south carolinia program, is that these people have a real threat for some kind of disruption, including boycotts, losing government support, and phyiscal violence.

  5. I do not have religious objections to Tarot reading myself, but as a Tarot player, I am disappointed at what appear to be one-sided presentations of Tarot cards only in terms of divination.

    Tarot cards, according to playing card historians, were not originally designed for fortune telling. They were created for playing a type of card game similar to Whist. Tarot card games are still played today in France, Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. There also appears to be a small but growing number of players outside Europe.

    If public educational institutions foster the notion that Tarot is only about divination and the occult, then they are not doing the job for which we pay them.

    I think that taxpayer funded institutions such as public libraries and public schools which are designed to educate the public should give equal time to the card playing aspects of Tarot. Tarot is often presented in this country only as something to accept or reject in terms of its alleged accuracy in predicting the future. When other options such as card playing are being supressed, one is not actually free in how one views or uses the cards.

    I must ask why must all presentations of Tarot in this country have to be occult related? Why do we not expose the young people to actual card games played with Tarot decks? Teens should be aware that Tarot cards are not just used for the occult or for divination. We should teach teenagers the rules for Tarot card games too. It is highly possible that young people may come to prefer the card games over the divination practices. They should be given an informed choice. We should educate young people about all aspects of culture including Tarot and not present one sided depictions of these matters.

    I do not wish for these Tarot presentations to be banned or cancelled as they have in some parts of the country, but I do think they should be more balanced by including some information regarding Tarot’s role in the history of card games.

  6. James D. Wickson, have you volunteered at your local library or anywhere else to teach people how to play Tarot?

  7. Interesting you should bring that up, Karen. I am in fact in the process of making plans to form a Tarot/Tarock gaming group here in Las Vegas.

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