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Library holds hearing on gay-sex book

Thursday Sep 18, 2008

HELENA, WY - Some library patrons want a book on gay sex removed from the public library here.

Others say the library must serve all segments of the community and that the book should be kept on the shelves.

The Lewis and Clark Public Library held a public hearing Tuesday night on whether the book "The Joy of Gay Sex" should stay or go.

More than a dozen people testified in favor of removing it. Helena resident Wayne Beckman was one of them, saying the book shows immorality.

About 20 people spoke in support of keeping the book, including Mike Cronin of Helena. He said the public library does not have an obligation to serve as a parent.

The request to remove the book came from Paul Cohen, of Helena, who found the book on a visit to the library in February.

The book was reviewed by the library's collection review committee, which recommended keeping it.

Library Director Judy Hart agreed with the recommendation, saying it is the library's obligation to provide information to all elements of society.

Because Cohen challenged the decision by Hart, the library board of directors held the public hearing.

"Any Helena citizen can purchase it and keep the book at home," Cohen said Tuesday night. "No one is being denied the freedom of speech."

Bernadine Abbott-Hoduski, who worked on a recent campaign for the library mill levy, said that in order to get the people of Helena to vote favorably, she had to promise that the library will not discriminate.

"Every citizen needs to be treated with respect," Abbott-Hoduski said.

The book has been in the library's circulation since 1993, with several replacement copies purchased as new editions were printed, most recently in November 2007.

It was checked out three times before removal for the review procedure.

The library board of directors is expected to make a decision on the matter at its Oct. 21 meeting.

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