LAPEER – The Lapeer Public Library currently has no system in place to prevent children from accessing and checking out highly objectionable content like sexually graphic, adult-only books and movies including other books on Critical Race Theory (CRT) content that promotes racism against white people.
The Tribune spoke to Peggy Brotzke who’s relative checked out unrated pornographic and serial killer books and movies in self-checkout using her 10 year old daughter’s library card. The checkout system did nothing to flag or prevent the checkout and the parent received no notice about her daughter checking out this adult content.
Brotzke became concerned that the library was exposing children to inappropriate content when some other concerned citizens spoke out at a county commissioners meeting in early 2023 about the book, Gender Queer, which the book according to Brotzke, was found on the “new book” rack near the children’s books prominently displayed in the children’s room of the library.
At that meeting, it was discussed that the library had no systems in place to prevent children from accessing adult-only content. She spoke to a relative of hers, who decided to find out for herself whether the library would prevent children from accessing adult content.
She selected a handful of 50 Shades of Gray books and explicit, unrated DVDs and books and videos about serial killer, John Wayne Gasy and used her 10 year old daughter’s library card to check out the books in the self-checkout.
There were no notices or warnings at the time of checkout and the mother received no communication from the library notifying her that her daughter’s library card was used to check out this content. The mother called the library to ask what her daughter had checked out. When the staff member gave her the list, the mother asked the staff member if she thought it was OK for the library to allow children access to this type of content, the mother then said “the staff member hung up the phone.”
Ms. Brotzke explained to the Tribune that her intention with sharing this information is to raise public awareness so the library would prevent children from being able to access adult content.
“I’ve been called a book banner. I don’t want to ban books. I don’t care what adults use. I just don’t want children to have access to material that only adults should have access to” she stated.
Brotzke attempted to correspond with Library Director, Amy Churchill through email. Churchill, who according to a local news station said she was willing to “go to jail to keep the controversial book Gender Queer on the shelves”, would not respond to Ms. Brostzke’s emails regarding the situation. Churchill rather told her that she could speak in the public library board meetings during their “public time.”
Ms. Brotzke shared her email correspondence history with the Tribune and it appeared to be honest attempts at understanding and encouraging policy change from a concerned citizen.
The County Board of Commissioners has appointed two new members to the Library Board, effective in January. The Tribune spoke with John DeAngelis, one of the new incoming board members. He said he was definitely concerned about how and why the library does not protect kids from inappropriate content. He said he was particularly concerned about CRT materials being promoted to even young children that indoctrinate them with ideas like “white guilt.” He said, “I don’t believe it is right to make any kid feel bad about what race they are. Unless changes are made to provide more transparency and to protect children, I’m concerned that when the library seeks millage renewals, they won’t pass.”
The library has made at least one change since Brotzke and other citizens began voicing their concerns. The “new books” rack, which is what featured books like Gender Queer in the children’s room, has been removed from the children’s room and is now in the adult section of the library.
The Tribune reached out to the library director’s office two days prior to deadline and did not receive a response.