There’s a lot that’s interesting about Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin but, as a word nerd, I’m most intrigued by the Case of the Resigning Librarian. From a recent Time magazine article:
Stein says that as mayor, Palin continued to inject religious beliefs into her policy at times. “She asked the library how she could go about banning books,” he says, because some voters thought they had inappropriate language in them. “The librarian was aghast.” That woman, Mary Ellen Baker, couldn’t be reached for comment, but news reports from the time show that Palin had threatened to fire Baker for not giving “full support” to the mayor.
Mary Ellen Baker (Emmons at the time) eventually resigned. According to the Anchorage Daily News, “Palin pressured Wasilla librarian“:
The stories are all suggestive, but facts are hard to come by. Did Palin actually ban books at the Wasilla Public Library?
In December 1996, Emmons told her hometown newspaper, the Frontiersman, that Palin three times asked her — starting before she was sworn in — about possibly removing objectionable books from the library if the need arose.
Were any books censored banned? June Pinell-Stephens, chairwoman of the Alaska Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee since 1984, checked her files Wednesday and came up empty-handed. Four days before the exchange at the City Council, Emmons got a letter from Palin asking for her resignation.
Pinell-Stephens also had no record of any phone conversations with Emmons about the issue back then. Emmons was president of the Alaska Library Association at the time. Books may not have been pulled from library shelves, but there were other repercussions for Emmons.
As with many of the stories emerging about Palin, the details of the Case of the Resigning Librarian remain a little murky. For example, exactly which books Palin was hoping to have removed isn’t clear yet (a supposed list posted at librarian.net has proven to be a fake but the discussion there is interesting). Librarians Against Palin is tracking this issue, and you can also follow it at Library Journal, which isn’t that probing in its analysis but has some good links.
So, who wants to send Sarah Palin a Happy Banned Books Week card?