‘Tintin’ books move in Jones children’s area
AMHERST — Books from a graphic novel series that contain racial and ethnic stereotypes, which some parents requested be moved from the children’s room at the Jones Library, have been relocated but are still in the children’s area.
The “Tintin” books, once shelved at the entrance to the children’s section, are now about 20 feet away near a window.
Library Director Sharon Sharry would not comment Thursday on why the books were moved.
But the new location is not satisfactory for people who brought up concerns to library staff and elected trustees about the content of the “Tintin” books. They had asked that the books be placed in the young adult section.
“Our hope was that this type of move would have alerted parents to the idea that some of the material in the ‘Tintin’ books is not appropriate for young children,” said Ali Wicks-Lim, one of five parents who formally requested a reconsideration of the material. “It also would have made the children’s room feel more welcoming for children of color, who don’t feel good about watching their peers laugh at racist material.”
The trustees have said that taking the books out of the children’s section would amount to censorship, based on American Library Association guidelines.
The parents who requested the move maintain that some of the “Tintin” novels portray characters in a negative light and reflect imperial attitudes evident at the time they were written in the 1930s.
At a meeting of the Jones trustees Thursday, during which members provided a six-month update on Sharry’s job performance, board president Austin Sarat complimented the librarian on how she has handled the “Tintin” issue.
“In my view, Sharon dealt with the controversy as well as it could be dealt with,” Sarat said.
Wicks-Lim said she and others are still aiming to have a community dialogue on the issue.
“What we would really like to see is for this community to take a stand that this blatantly racist, highly visual material is not something we want to expose our young children to,” Wicks-Lim said.
The library is also working with individuals and community groups to put together programs focused on racism.
The children’s room staff recently prepared a bibliography on race and racism for Russ Vernon-Jones, a retired elementary school principal who plans to oversee a series of diversity and anti-racism programs and workshops.
Sarat said the library should be involved, given the struggles the schools are having with issues of racism and discrimination after several incidents targeting a teacher. He said he would like library staff to work toward creating responses to racism, although he did not specify how.
Earlier this week, members of the Select Board indicated they would be involved in community conversations about race and discrimination, observing it is a townwide concern.