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Letter to the Editor: Get all the facts before commenting

Last updated on April 3, 2023

I was very pleased to read that The Southern Scoop publishes/posts all Letters to the Editor so I thought this was a great opportunity to share things that have been on my heart.

I have listened and wanted to address the issue about all the commotion going on with the library for sometime now. It seems like most people don’t have all the facts, comment on a lot of hearsay, and it has completely gotten out of hand. First of all when this started out there was never talk or intentions of banning any books. And all those talking the loudest only seem to be focusing on that. The topic at hand was making sure that books with inappropriate, pornographic material should not be accessible to any child in a public library setting.

Members of our community including members of our local board of commissioners have attended many library meetings hoping to have the issue addressed only to be shut down at every corner. Although Macon County funds the Fontana Library system every year in the sum of over $1 million a year, the organization did not seem to care one ounce about concerns of local tax paying parents/community members. Requests that were made were for these books in question to be removed from the teen/young adult section and labeled as adult content. Other suggestions were that if a child were to attempt to check these books out that their parents would be alerted through email so they would know if their children had access to these books. Any suggestions were and continue to be shut down. It has only been recently that one of these books were moved to the adult section after County Commissioners suggested that they may not continue in their contract with Fontana Regional Library system. Which honestly, even when you take the issue of these certain books out of the conversation, it is still pretty ridiculous to be in contract with an association who profits off of your community with zero responsibility financially or ethically. What most Maconians do you not realize is that we fund the library yearly with no actual possession of anything inside of our library. That contract was signed by a previous Commissioner and makes no logical sense financially for our county to continue to be in a deal such as this. If the county commissioners were to pull out of Fontana, Fontana would be entitled to everything inside of our building even though we funded over 1 million dollars yearly towards all items inside of our library. That is just a bad business deal all around and I am not sure why any tax payer feels comfortable being in a deal like that. Whoever signed the contract for the Highlands Library had more insight than the commissioner who signed the deal for the Franklin and Nantahala libraries because they did not make such a deal and would still have access to all of their items that were purchased from their funding.

But now to the topic of these books. Some argue that these books should be accessible to any and all who would like to view them. Some have the opinion that adults just shouldn’t let their children look at the books if they don’t like it. But I am under the opinion that no one‘s child should be allowed or encouraged to look at anything that includes pornographic material. That does not mean books should be banned but access should be limited to those 18 years and older. Which means they should not be in the teen/young adult section either.

The teen section is a CHILD’s section. I like my child/children to be able to peruse through the section of the library that is set for his age group to discover books that may interest him and helps to keep his mind intrigued with reading. However I do not want him to happen upon a pornographic image in a book regardless of sexual orientation in a section that is designated for his age because 13 is still a child. And yes, my child knows if he comes across something like that, that he is immediately to put it back, but will it erase that image in his mind? Absolutely not! Why is the innocence of a child not of concern to more people? The whole argument about children having phones and being able to see things like that anyway is ridiculous because not all children have phones. My 13-year-old does not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with parents asking for these books to be labeled and put out of easy reach of any child regardless of their age so they just can’t happen upon them. And that is not considered banning books. That is simply labeling them for what they are. People need to start seeing that a compromise is what is an order here.

Some argue that the commissioners have more important things to worry about than some silly books in the library. They argue that our town is full of homeless and drug addicts. I would argue that the reason we have so many addicts and homeless people is because there are many people in our county who have suffered through poverty and childhood trauma among other things. Many things can contribute to childhood trauma including experiencing sexual abuse. Along with that is children having access to pornography at a young age which is harmful to their mind. Being someone who has worked with elementary school aged children, the amount of children who have experienced sexual abuse is utterly heartbreaking and I can only imagine how seeing images such as what is in these books of question could be triggering for them.

I personally appreciate parents, community members, and commissioners who care enough to fight for the innocence of all of our children.

If we all banded together to focus more on a child’s innocence and safety, it could positively affect our country in more ways than one.

Jodi Libasci

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