Library protest turns into battle over illegal immigration

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Aug 10 13:44:45 UTC 2005

Library protest turns into battle over illegal immigration
  Adam Schrager  9NEWS Reporter

 DENVER - A battle over alleged pornographic, Spanish-language material
inside the Denver Public Library morphed Monday into a battle over illegal
immigration outside the Denver Public Library.  A protest and
counter-protest drew dozens of people to the Central Branch of the library
to rally for their respective political causes.

The items which precipitated the debate are called fotonovellas, which
according to Library Director Rick Ashton, "are a popular Spanish
publication format in Latin America and the United States. They are
usually fiction books which use both pictures (photos or drawings) and
text to tell their stories. The most typical content is similar to that of
the Mexican soap operas that you have seen on Spanish-language

 The material has been pulled for the Library to review its contents and
determine its importance and place in the overall collection of 2.5
million pieces. The fotonovellas have been available for library patrons
for the last 15 years. "We're trying to build a library that serves a wide
range of interests, a very diverse community, which Denver is," said Jo
Sarling, the DPL Director of Access. "We have never had a request to
reconsider any of these titles. We have never had anyone complain about
them with the exception of people saying 'Can you get more?'"

 However, critics allege the material contained inside the fotonovellas
depicts pornographic activity and graphic violence toward women. "The
ability for a child to be able to walk in and check this stuff out is
outrageous," said Michael Corbin, Coordinator for the Coalition for a
Closer Look.

 Corbin and others said to use taxpayer money on material that is
obviously offensive is revolting itself. They believe the Denver Public
Library's decision to spend more resources to attract Spanish-speaking
customers amounts to a misplacing of taxpayer dollars. "They do not have a
right to access our taxpayer-funded library or to dictate its policy and
tell us through the library what books are going to be in."

 The debate though quickly turned to immigration policy, specifically the
role Spanish-language material should play in the Library. "You always
hear they want to come and work," said Robert Copley, Jr. of Sovereignty
Colorado. "Well, they also want to come and kill and destroy wages and
just demean our quality of life."

 That offended Gabriella Casillas, who works for a Denver immigration
rights attorney. She said the novellas have given people a reason to
attack immigrants, "It's the library where people come and learn. "They
want to talk about porn. What about soap operas? It's the same thing just
in a different language."

 The Denver Public Library will reconsider the display two to three titles
per year. There is no timetable on when a decision will be made about
whether to permanently pull the fotonovellas from the shelves or place
them once again on display.>

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