Library worker's battle with <i>Black Dossier</i> began a year ago

More than a month after two Kentucky public-library employees were fired after refusing to allow a child to check out The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, details surrounding their dismissal finally are emerging.

In a lengthy article in the Lexington Herald-Leader, we learn the story didn't begin on Sept. 22, when Jessamine County Library circulation-desk attendants Beth Bovaire and Sharon Cook decided the graphic novel was inappropriate for the 11-year-old girl who had reserved it.

Instead, events date back almost a year, when the 57-year-old Cook, appalled that children had access to the Alan Moore-Kevin O'Neill book, challenged its inclusion in the graphic-novel section, which apparently is tantalizingly close to Young Adult Fiction. When that didn't work, she checked the book out of the library -- and kept renewing it, effectively removing it from circulation, until Sept. 21. That's when Cook tried to renew Black Dossier again, only to discover the computer wouldn't permit her to do so because the book had been placed on hold ... by a child, no less.

According to reporter Amy Wilson, on Sept. 22 Cook spoke to two of her colleagues about the problem, and Beth Boisvert, a part-time employee, decided to remove the hold, prohibiting the child from checking out the book. The next day, Cook and Boisvert were fired.

Cook still has the library's copy of Black Dossier, and is being charged 10 cents a day in late fees.

Wilson's article includes plenty of background on the library's policies, and Cook's efforts to challenge the book according procedure, which required her to, y'know, actually read it: "People prayed over me while I was reading it because I did not want those images in my head."

Cook and Boisvert contend the graphic novel amounts to pornography, and that the library could be committing a felony by making it available to minors. They want the citizens of Jessamine County -- "we are a conservative community," Boisvert says -- to determine whether Black Dossier, and presumably other works, meet community standards for obscenity, and to decide what books their children have access to.

In short, they want county taxpayers to select what appears on library shelves, and where.

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