No ‘prejudicial labeling’ of books coming from Timberland Regional Library


Timberland Regional Library does not condone the “prejudicial labeling” of their books, said Executive Director Cheryl Heywood.

During their board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, July 26 Heywood spoke in response to a downpour of public comments requesting that the five-county library system reject a suggestion from Lewis County commissioners to establish a book-rating system.

The Chronicle reported last week that the Lewis County Board of Commissioners wrote a letter to Briad Miittge and Hal Blanton, their appointed trustees in the library district, asking that they develop a booking-rating policy to delineate what books are age appropriate.

Heywood said that from July 19 to July 26, they received a total of 142 emails against the idea of a book-rating system. In response, Heywood said that they have policies ensuring their patrons have the freedom to read without the need for additional labeling.

“As a reminder, we do have multiple Timberland board-approved policies, as well as operational procedures, collection guidelines, and our community developed strategic directions in place that ensure the freedom to read for all our patrons without additional labeling. Materials are already placed in age-appropriate areas of the library such as early readers, kids, teens and adults,” Heywood said.

“We do not condone the prejudicial labeling of the collection. We believe that the ability to freely choose what to read is the cornerstone of democracy and of a free society,” Heywood added.

Eleven people spoke against the idea of a book-rating policy during the Timberland Regional Library’s board of trustees meeting.
Eleven people spoke against the idea of a book-rating policy during the Timberland Regional Library’s board of trustees meeting.

Eleven people also spoke against the idea during public comments at the Wednesday meeting, believing that book rating was a form of censorship and that it could eventually lead to the banning of books.

“I think if you start rating books, then that just leads to simple banning. And we don't want that. This is Washington state. This is not Florida. It’s banning then it's burning books. It's just one step away from that,” said Monique Fairland of Centralia.

Some people also said that parents are responsible for what their children read and that policies should not control what children get to read.

“We have the freedom to parent as we see fit, and we don't interfere in how others parent their children, whether we perceive it as being correct or not,” said Laura Hewett of Chehalis, a retired teacher. “It’s not for us as individuals to decide what information should be restricted in other families, only our own.”

“If you see a book with content you don't agree with, don't read it. But please don't tell me that I can't,” Hewett added.

Clinical psychologist Kathleen O’Shaunessy weighed in, “I want to express my strong opposition to using the rating system that was suggested, based on research as well as my many years of clinical experience.” O’Shaunessy said she has “worked for families for fifty years and for this community for at least 40 years.”

Political psychologist Kathleen O’Shaunessy
Political psychologist Kathleen O’Shaunessy

O’Shaunessy continued, “Books which help young people gain insight, information, clarity, and support for the struggles that they are experiencing is not only helpful, but it's frequently, literally as well as figuratively, a lifesaver. Because it often paves the way for young people to be able to discuss with a parent or trusted adults some of their concerns. Our local library librarian and a wonderful community resource.” She reminded everyone of our constitutional first amendment and rights that she says must be defended. And shared that parents are capable of selecting what is appropriate for their children. 


5 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • MaKane

    So all this outrage to support a third grader's right to read 50 shades of grey?

    Thursday, July 27, 2023 Report this

  • Callie

    The library protects our first amendment rights. Democracy dies in darkness.

    As a parent, I trusted the librarians to point my kids to books they might want to read - and I credit the summer reading program for helping me be the parent I aspired to be- my children grew up to be avid readers. I found the library organized so that it was easy to find suitable-for-age books.

    I'm so proud to have a library system that knocks itself out to get books to people.

    Thursday, July 27, 2023 Report this

  • KatAshe

    Thank goodness we live in a community that values freedom of choice in reading material.

    As a child I read well above my grade level. Growing up in the 1950s during the communist ‘scares’, I remember that my teachers had to sign loyalty oaths. At about 11, one of my teachers talked about the Smith Act, and then going to my local library, finding the correct law book, to see what this ‘act’ was about.

    There are similarities between banning books and passing laws to control other persons bodies. If we live in a democracy, then no person or elected body should have the right to determine what I do or read than does not personally affect their choices as to how they lead their lives.

    Friday, July 28, 2023 Report this

  • HappyOlympian

    MaKane, support your point by using a credible example and maybe those who do won't be laughing at your insights. Please suggest who is going to rate books or decide. If the world wants ratings, anyone can create a resource that others of like mind can then use to decide. MaKane, feel free to make one and show some credible efforts to help with your concerns.

    Sunday, July 30, 2023 Report this

  • AndyFalun

    This is the type of thing that Cheryl Heywood is defending.

    The book 'Jack of Hearts (and other parts)' is on the shelves of the Timberland Regional Library. Here's its description in the catalog:

    "New York. Rumors have always swirled about Jack's unapologetically ***** *** life. Jack has a lot of ***-- and he's not ashamed of it. While he's sometimes ostracized, and gossip constantly rages about his *** life, Jack always believes that 'it coul [sic]"

    And here's an excerpt from it.

    "I'd sucked my share of d**ks and had gotten plenty of b***j*bs, every kind of job, but only the b****** I'd had was with this junior who was in love with my c**k and he'd just hopped aboard."

    I need write nothing more.

    Monday, July 31, 2023 Report this