FLORIDA LIBRARY AND LOLITA
Article published Nov 29, 2005
Appeal is expected for decision on book 'Lolita'
SUSAN LATHAM CARR
OCALA - Terry Blaes said she will appeal the Marion County Public Library Director's position that the book, "Lolita," is appropriately placed in the adult section of the library.
Asked why she planned to appeal the decision to the Board of the Marion County Board of County Commissioners, Blaes said, "To find out how the County Commission, which has established a policy in order to make certain types of books unavailable - to find out whether their policy applies to this particular book."
Blaes, former chairman of the now defunct Library Advisory Board, filed a Statement of Concern on Sept. 23 questioning whether, "Lolita," a novel by Vladimir Nabokov that contains themes of pedophilia and incest, should be considered unsuitable for minors and, therefore, placed in a restricted area of the library instead of the open stacks of the adult section of the library.
Under library policy and procedures, Library Director Julie Sieg appointed a committee of librarians to review Blaes' statement, to read the book and render an opinion as to what, if anything, should be done with the novel, considered by many to be a classic piece of literature.
The committee of librarians concluded that the book was suitable for the adult section of the library.
There are four copies of, "Lolita," in the library's collection, two at the library's headquarters, one at the Friendship Library branch and one at the Forest branch.
Sieg, who read the book and the librarians' report, also found the book to be acceptable for the adult section. She sent Blaes a letter on Nov. 18 outlining her decision.
Blaes, or any other member of the community, has 30 days from the date of Sieg's letter to appeal the library director's decision. Sieg said Monday that she has not yet received an appeal of her decision from Blaes or anyone else.
"This is a busy time of the year," Blaes said about her appeal. "It will be within the 30 days, though." She said she was not surprised by Sieg's decision.
When Sieg receives appeal documents, she has seven days to forward them to the County Commission chairman for consideration by the board of commissioners.
The board has 45 days to review the appeal. After all testimony has been heard, the board has 30 days to issue a written opinion. Any further appeals must be made to the Circuit Court of the Fifth Judicial Circuit.
Neither Commissioner Andy Kesselring nor Randy Harris has seen Sieg's written decision nor has either read, "Lolita."
"It's not something that's on my reading list at this point in time," Kesselring said. But he said that, if Sieg's decision is appealed, he will read the book.
Harris said he "didn't have any idea," whether he would read the book but said he did not believe he would have to read the entire book to determine if it is appropriate for children to read without parental consent.
"I don't know if I will read the book," Harris said. "Any person anywhere of average intelligence can look at materials unsuitable for children without parent consent without reading an entire book."
He said there is nothing in state law that would require him to read the entire book.
"I recognize the difference between legitimate concerns expressed to the commission by parents of children and grandparents and other citizens and what is occurring today, which is entirely different," Harris said.
He said Blaes is "playing games."
Blaes has filed the first complete Statement of Concern under the county's new policy that allows the County Commission to remove a book from the open stacks of the adult section of the library and place them in a restricted section if the commission deems the book inappropriate for children.
Blaes said that she believes that the commission will have to discuss the book in a public meeting.
"If they uphold her position that this book was appropriately selected and appropriately placed in the library in this public meeting, they would have to say why they believe that, and that's what I am interested in hearing," Blaes said.
On the other hand, if commissioners disagree with Sieg's opinion, Blaes said they will have to do something with the book.
Would she consider appealing such a decision to the circuit court?
"We will have to cross that bridge when it comes," Blaes said.
Susan Latham Carr may be reached at email@example.com or (352) 867-4156.