For most of 2009, the West Bend Community Memorial Library in West Bend, Wisconsin, was embroiled in controversy due to a series of community-based challenges against the presence of so-called “sexually explicit books” and “books for youth on homosexuality” in the library’s Young Adult section. The controversy generated considerable discussion and debate over the role of the library in providing access to information, the nature of intellectual freedom and professional authority, the influence of community and outside stakeholders, and the role of local governance in library operations. These discussions occurred in public meetings and across dinner tables, in community protests and editorial pages, on blogs and social media, and in professional and academic venues, and they reached far beyond the limits of the rural Wisconsin city, making the West Bend controversy an important and unique opportunity to explore how debates over intellectual freedom play out in the twenty-first century information ecosystem.


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pp. 721-729
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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