As longtime readers know, Unexpectedly Bart! can be drawn into the political arena only with the greatest reluctance. Even so, when it came to our attention that an American vice-presidential candidate repeatedly showed interest in censoring books at her city's library, we had to look into it.
As reported by Rindi White of the Anchorage Daily News:Back in 1996, when she first became mayor, Sarah Palin asked the city librarian [Mary Ellen Emmons] if she would be all right with censoring library books....
...the librarian said she would definitely not be all right with it. [All italics mine.] A few months later, [Emmons] got a letter from Palin telling her she was going to be fired….
Emmons had been city librarian for seven years and was well liked. After a wave of public support for her, Palin relented and let Emmons keep her job.
….[Emmons said] that Palin three times asked her — starting before she was sworn in [as mayor] — about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose…. When the matter came up for the second time…during a City Council meeting, Anne Kilkenny…was there.
"Sarah said to Mary Ellen, 'What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?" Kilkenny said.
"I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said.. 'I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.'"Shortly thereafter, Emmons received a letter asking for her resignation. After retracting the request, Sarah Palin told reporters the letter was just “a test of loyalty.” And the test would be given again.
Anne Kilkenny's now famous account of Sarah Palin's mayoral tenure has been vetted and posted at Snopes.com.
As for me, I hope my defense of our nation’s libraries means that my local branch will waive the $1.25 in overdue charges I seem to have accrued. (Man, I just couldn’t finish Jonathan Livingston Seagull in two weeks!)
ADDENDUM (9/22/08): The New York Times recently reported that one of the library books Palin evinced an interest in was Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite.