August 12, 1996
Dr. Ronald Epps
Rockford School District
201 S. Madison Street
Rockford, IL. 61104
Yago Cura, Director of Acquisitions
Cook Memorial Public Library District
Cook Park Library
413 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Libertyville, IL. 60048
Dear Mr. Epps,
Thank you for your letter regarding Luis J. Rodriguez's biography Always Running(1993). Your letter asks that we remove Always Running from the shelves of the Cook Memorial Public Library District as a gesture of solidarity with the decision reached by Rockland School Board members to restrict access to Rockland high school students of Rodriguez's biography.
Dr. Epps, even though Cook Memorial Public Library District librarians work in concert with many high school teachers in the Rockland School Board, this does not mean that the Cook Memorial Public Library District agrees with the actions taken by the Board. Censorship is antithetical to the very nature of the Cook Memorial Public Library District. Our main interaction with the public involves providing information service and facilitating access to information. We are not in the restricting business; we are ardent enablers, as long as what we are enabling is unrestricted access to information. This is why the Cook Memorial Public Library District can not join you as you choose to censure Always Running.
I understand that members of the Rockford School Board have found much of the content in Always Running objectionable. Specifically, I understand that Ed Sharp and David Strommer were the most vociferous in their objections to the book. They have been very public about their beliefs that "a kid may get aroused by reading this," and suggested that the book is "pornographic." Their objections imply that reading about drugs and violence make readers want to resort to drugs and violence. But, we do not share that belief, and our core belief system, embodied by the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights (1996, 1948), carries specific provisions that "Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation". It especially forbids libraries to "proscribe or remove [materials]because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval".
Therefore, I hope you understand that we are forbidden by professional decree to not censure materials; the actions taken by the Rockland School Board are antithetical to the core belief system of the Cook Memorial Public Library District. However, we would be more than happy to schedule a time for consultation wherein you can suggest materials of equal aesthetic stature and recognition which document the millieau of Los Angeles in the early 80's. In other words, at your earliest convenience could you please provide our offices a bibliography of alternative resources that document the millieau of Los Angeles in the early 80's. My request springs from another tenet that forms part of the Library Bill of Rights (1996, 1948): amendment 2, which states that "Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues". Dr.Epps, I respect your right to disagree with the way that Luis Rodriguez recounts the millieau of Los Angeles in the early 80's and invite you to help me diversify our corps of knowledge on this subject.
A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.