By Ben Johnson
The Washington Stand
South Carolina has canceled its membership in two library associations that accuse parents who believe young children should not see pornography of launching “book bans.”
The South Carolina State Library pulled out of the American Library Association (ALA) over its “tone-deaf … activism,” while the state’s public schools exited the South Carolina Association of School Librarians (SCASL) for creating a “hostile environment” against parents.
Leesa Aken, the agency director of the South Carolina State Library, condemned the “ALA’s hyper-focus” on engaging in “activism for certain groups of people and not advocacy for libraries and all of the people they serve.” A chief example is the ALA’s “tone-deaf” advice about purported “book bans,” Aken wrote in her August 21 letter.
She also criticized the “advice and action of some individuals associated with ALA for librarians to sneak materials into libraries and book their meeting rooms to avoid usage of certain groups of people” as “not only unprofessional” but in violation of “the basic principle that libraries are for everyone.” This summer the director of the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, advised libraries how to deny Kirk Cameron the ability to host a faith-based story hour inside libraries — advice that dozens of libraries followed, Cameron reported.
The ALA’s claim to be nonpartisan “does not ring true in the current climate,” Aken concluded.
The State Superintendent of Education cited similar concerns upon severing public schools’ ties with the SCASL. “Parents are entirely justified in seeking to ensure educational materials presented to their children are age-appropriate and aligned with the overall purpose of South Carolina’s instructional program and standards. When SCASL labels those efforts as bans, censorship, or a violation of educators’ intellectual freedom, the result is a more hostile environment which does not serve the needs of students,” wrote State Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver.