ASHLAND — Books that some find pornographic at the Ashland Public Library will remain in the juvenile nonfiction section, according to a press release issued Friday.

The decision comes two months after the board of trustees received official complaints regarding three books some people in the community have found inappropriate for children.

Since then, community members have fallen into one of three camps on the issue.

Some believe the books should be banned outright.

Others think the books should be relocated to an area in the library where children do not frequent.

The third group, including Sandra Tunnell, the library board’s president, say relocating or removing the books is censorship and has remained committed to keeping the books where they are.

The three books in question are “Puberty is Gross, But Also Really Awesome,” by Gina Loveless; “Own Your Period” by Chella Quint and “Making a Baby” by Rachel Greener.

“The Collection Development Team has reviewed the requests made by members of the public in regards to the relocation of materials. It is the decision of (Heather Miller, the library’s director), upheld by the board of trustees, that these materials are correctly categorized and in the appropriate section based on the intended audience,” reads the release.

The three books will remain in the library’s juvenile nonfiction section in the “appropriate area based on the Dewey-Lite categorization,” reads the statement.

Miller said the decision aligns with the library’s goal of making “available a diversity of ideas and viewpoints in support of an informed citizenry and Democratic society.”

Further, the policy states that parents and guardians of minors have the responsibility of guiding their children’s use of library materials and technology.

Some residents also expressed concern for three other books during prior library meetings.

One of them, “Wonderful Women of the World” by Laurie Hasle Anderson, was first cataloged as a juvenile book in the library. It was later moved to the library’s adult nonfiction section, according to Miller.

The other, “This is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of her, him, them, and us” edited by Katherine Locke and Nicolle Melleby, was never in circulation at the library.

The third, “It’s Perfectly Normal” by Robbie Harris, has always been shelved in the library’s adult nonfiction section, according to Heather Miller, the library’s director. 

The Rev. John Bouquet of Bethel Baptist Church and a member of the Ashland County Ministerial Association (ACMA) has spearheaded the group of people who believe the books should be relocated in other areas of the library.

Bouquet was not immediately available to comment on the library’s decision to keep the books where they are.

An anonymous letter

The director’s decision Friday came a day following the board of trustees’ September meeting, where only a handful of people attended, compared to the hundreds who showed up in July and August. 

No one at the meeting spoke about the controversial books. However, Miller read a letter the library received from an anonymous writer who said they had “recently come to terms with being queer.”

Miller read the letter in full at the meeting. 

“I am not comfortable telling my family or community,” reads the four-page letter, a copy of which Ashland Source has obtained and read. “I am curious how my life could have been different if I had books normalizing same sex relationships.”

The author said they grew up being taught that homosexuality is a sin, which the author said is “scary, not only then as a child, but as a young adult too.”

The author wrote they felt “confused” and “failed” when it came to their limited access to educational materials about sexuality and encouraged the library to keep the controversial books where they are in the library.

“I am not a parent, nor do I believe I have the best solution to this problem at large,” the author wrote, “but if it means anything, I hope you keep those books in a place youth can access them.”

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