Sarah Palin, VP nominee

I try to keep “who to vote for” politics pretty well off of this blog and prefer to discuss politics in general and better and worse strategies for promoting libraries in whatever political climate we happen to be in. People acutely interested in high level politics in the US who also work in libraries may be interested in this Time magazine article about Sarah Palin. I was very interested in this paragraph.

[Former Wasilla mayor] Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” The librarian, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire her for not giving “full support” to the mayor.

Usually I’m just happy to see libraries even mentioned in national level politics, but not like this. Mary Ellen Baker resigned from her library director job in 1999.
note: there’s some buzz being generated that says that this post contains a comment that lists the books that Palin supposedly wanted banned. The list is here, but there appears to be no truth to the claim made by the commenter, and no further documentation or support for this has turned up.

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252 thoughts on “Sarah Palin, VP nominee

  1. It would be helpful if those of you piling on Governor Palin for supposedly wanting to ban books would remember this information is coming from a fired employee with a grudge. Because of confidentiality rules, Gov Palin can’t defend herself against someone who for all YOU know was fired for just cause and is now lying in order to get vengeance.

    Think about it before you hop on the bandwagon.

  2. “Bob Bowser Says:
    September 5th, 2008 at 4:39

    I can not verify the following information, but it seems genuine and was provided by a resident of Wasilla, Ann. There is nothing in this description that seems off. I am sure it could be tracked won to Ann, as needed. ”

    In other words, you are trafficking gossip that supports your dislike for Governor Palin so you choose to believe it.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  3. I think that a better source for researching what she might have found “offensive” would be from the sermons of her Minister (Ed Kalnin) at the Wasilla Church of God. It’s interesting that these were available on his website until right after Palin’s nomination…then they were taken down. But maybe someone got them?

  4. Can someone verify that the list of a gazillion books that Sarah Palin purpordedly banned is factual. It seems impossible that most of the books listed could ever possibly be even a suggestion to ban…..If it is a proven fact, then it is beyond comprehension that she could possibly be considered for “any” important position in local government, let alone the #2 spot in the nation!

  5. Jessamyn,
    Your disclaimer at the top of this thread is badly worded. We know that the list is not accurate yet you dance around the truth with your statement, saving the disclaimer itself for last. You have done little more than provide a handy link to the false list. For shame.

  6. If it’s true, it’s not surprising but it hardly makes any difference to me. I’m not in the habit of voting for warmongering, right-wing nutjobs anyway (McCain/Palin).

  7. Question for you librarians – how often does your city mayor, or anyone in an elected or appointed office, come in and have a hypothetical/rhetorical conversation about banning books?

    Question for MV – you say her dealings with Emmons are “what every manager reorganizing and turning around a sick company does. Clean sweep and only keep those that work to help.” What are your reasons for considering the library a sick company and considering Emmons one who would not work to help?

    By the way, if there were actually voters who had complaints, they would have been quoted in the paper. People who want things banned are eager to be quoted in the paper, or better yet be on the TeeVee. If the mayor wouldn’t give ’em up, the reporter would have mentioned that. No mention of actual “voters” or a group or whatever means someone’s editor said you can’t inply that our mayor just cooked this up.

  8. My wife is a professional librarian with close to 35 years of experience at all levels, including at
    one time overseeing the operations of dozens of military libraries located in Europe and the
    Middle East. When she retired she took the job of library director in a small town (population
    976) as a way to keep busy and contribute to the community. As you librarians should know,
    community libraries are designed to serve the communities in which they are located. In most
    cases there is a library board made up of local citizens that sets policy. In my wife’s case, the
    board has seven members and she takes direction from them. They in turn are supposed to
    represent the will of the community in matters regarding the library. If for some reason they want
    a book removed from the collection, my wife can protest, she can register her strong opposition
    to censorship, but in the end she has to do what the board tells her to do or else resign.

    It should not have to be said, but the local mayor is elected by the community and is expected to
    carry out their majority wishes to the best of his or her abilities. I can envision a situation where
    the mayor is approached by a constituent with a complaint about a book. They tell the mayor
    they think it ought to be banned from the library. I can imagine the mayor might not be all that
    conversant with the ins and outs of book banning, so he or she might well come to the librarian
    and ask how it might be done. I can picture the librarian being aghast at the idea. I can hear him
    or her telling the mayor it’s a terrible idea, a wrong in fact, to ban book, that he or she is very
    much against it; but I can also picture the librarian, out of a sense of professional responsibility,
    answering the mayor’s question by saying “Such a decision would have to be made by the library
    board. The issue should be presented to them and, if they so direct it, then I’ll remove the book
    from circulation.”

    One comment rightly pointed out that there is a fundamental difference between local
    communities deciding which books they want in their libraries and the central government
    mandating that certain book will or will not be available anywhere in the country. There is no
    “right” for any book to be on the shelves of every library in the United States. Indeed, given the
    ubiquity and success of inter-library loan programs, there is no need for any library to necessarily
    have on its shelf and given book.

    With regards to the Palin case, from all I’ve read it’s impossible to tell what actually went on.
    The librarian in question is not talking. It appears the previous mayor was voted out of office
    because a majority of the community was displeased with his performance. I can well imagine he
    had appointed people to various positions on the basis of their sharing his views and their
    willingness to carry out his policies, policies that the majority of the community had come to
    reject. It is not unreasonable, therefore, for a new mayor to replace some of those people with
    others that reflect the current majority view. It seems that more than the librarian was asked to
    resign. We certainly know what the local press is alleging happened, but anyone who reads a
    local paper knows how stories can be influenced by the politics of the publisher or advertisers. Is
    what was written accurate? I have no idea. Nor does anyone commenting here.

    I must say it’s disheartening reading through the comments here. I would have thought librarians
    to be more judicious and restrained in the expression of their opinions, more inclined to get the
    facts before making or accepting accusations.

  9. On September 5th, 2008 at 5:01 EastAnon said:

    “So you actually support the banning of books, if done through the proper channels?”

    A typical hyperbolic counterattack, completely unsupported by my original comment. Nice try, though.

    “Palin is acting like a dictator in Wasilla. She has spread lies, tried to strongarm several people, and yet you defend her. Why is that? Why would you want a proven liar in the Whitehouse??”

    Because I’ve already seen how almost everything negative that has been said about Sarah Palin, here and elsewhere, is utter B.S. That’s why.

  10. I imagine somewhere in these 200+ comments, someone has already pointed out that the Harry Potter books couldn’t possibly have been on Palin’s banned books wish list in 1996, which of course calls the whole list in to question.

    I don’t really doubt that Palin wanted to ban books, but why make up a list that’s so easily proven false? It certainly doesn’t do us Democrats any good.

  11. I’m going to close comments for this post. It took on a life of its own which I’m a little embarassed to admit I wasn’t really expecting. I don’t want to create yet another comments thread with people yelling at each other about McCain/Obama talking points. This blog is primarily for library and librarian issues and I thought the Time Magazine article had interesting commentary on one such issue. After it’s no longer my birthday weekend, I’ll try to post something approximating a wrap-up. Have a pleasant weekend everyone.

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