Helpful Soldotna librarians post controversial book recommendations inside bathroom stall doors

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On the insides of the bathroom stalls in the Soldotna Public Library, city librarians have posted some “helpful tips” for books, in a place where children can see them without a parent observing or interpreting: They can find books on rape, abuse, depression, sex, alternative lifestyles, and suicide, and more in either the juvenile or adult nonfiction sections of the library. The Dewey Decimal section numbers are included in the recommendations.

The list doesn’t include where to find books on historical fiction, how-to, or adventure nonfiction, but where to find books that perhaps people don’t want to ask librarians about.

It’s a tip noted in a 2017 edition of School Library Journal, where one librarian published a report about how she used “Bathroom Book Blurbs” to entice students into reading books.

“In every stall and above every urinal, I’ve placed a Bathroom Book Blurb. People read anything when using the restroom—so why not advertise books?” Jamie Leroy wrote in her article about the technique for enticing kids to read certain books.

“When I started my Bathroom Book Blurbs, I saw immediate results. The next day, students asked for the ‘book they saw in the bathroom.’ Kids who’d never come to the library were showing up. I had to buy more copies to meet the demand,” said LeRoy, who was a librarian at Northwest High School in Justin, Texas that year.

Soldotna librarians have taken the Bathroom Book Blurbs to a whole new level, encouraging the reading of social and moral topics that some parents might find sensitive — if they knew what was behind that bathroom door.

The poster is one example of librarians who do not see themselves as neutral agents, but as radical change agents for society and ideological and social entrepreneurs. A 2021 academic paper explores this concept, and how librarians can advance the United Nations’ “sustainability agenda” and “Sustainable Development Goals”:

“Recently, visions of librarians as radical positive change agents (Lankes 2016) have influenced and shaped this debate, raising new questions about neutrality or ‘post-neutrality,’ professional agency and personal and political ideologies. However, what does it mean to be a radical positive change agent? To expand our understanding of the librarian as a radical positive change agent, this paper introduces the concepts of activism and social entrepreneurship. By highlighting similarities and differences between the concepts of the change agent, the activist and the social entrepreneur, this paper aims to inform future discussions about the proactive role of librarians working for change. The current focus on how librarians should act as agents for change in relation to the UN sustainability agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serves as an example throughout. The paper concludes by posing questions for further discussions of how the concepts of the change agent, the activist and the social entrepreneur might expand our understanding of the proactive librarian and how they might translate to the practice of librarianship in the era of ‘post-neutrality.'”

The paper goes on to explain that “Today, there seems to be widespread recognition that librarians should be proactive change agents and drivers of change” and should “initiate the change that is urgently needed facing global challenges like climate change, poverty, hunger, gender equality etc.”

91 COMMENTS

  1. Look, I don’t want the state to interfere with me raising my kids the right way. I don’t need this “helpful” librarian pointing my kids to ideas that are incompatible with the worldview I am raising them to understand. Exposure to ideas isn’t a good thing if the ideas are patently false or immoral.

    Is there anywhere safe for kids these days? The Church is the only safe place left for children now!

    • Church as a safe space for kids, thank you for the great comedy this morning OrlandoMan!!!

      I bet many priests are frothing at the mouth envisioning your declaration.

      • And the Youth Ministers that keep getting arrested for child sexual abuse.

        I cannot believe Suzanne passes on these news items, while providing a place where so many self describd “Christians” report their digust for “others” when they dismiss the behaviors within their own churches.

        • Don’t look now, Maureen, but your perpetual Christianphobia is showing.

          It is illustrative of your typical radical leftist extremist rebellion against everything that is stable, normal, traditional, decent and good.

          • Jefferson says not to look where the abuse is actually happening.

            And that the abuse in churches is “everything that is stable, normal, traditional, decent and good.”

        • I have long suspected, but I see it more clearly now, Maureen, through your own words.

          I am sorry, honestly, that you were abused by a member of the Youth Ministry, and there is absolutely no excuse for that abuse, and never shall be.

          Said abusers, whether as a member of the Clergy, Ministry, Education, Professional, Political, Military, or ANY other variance of power over others fully deserve their own special, agonizing, and mortifying place in whatever Hell that would recompense their own actions unto others throughout eternity.

          That said.

          Said abusers, no matter their origin, are NOT representative of the general populace of said organizations, but of a miniscule portion of said organizations, therefore should not be treated as one of ‘them’, even though many of ‘them’, within that miniscule percentage, have attained some semblance of decision-making power within the consequences of the abusers acts, and it is not just within the Clergy or Ministry, as it is within your own mind, but across ALL fields forementioned.

          The supposed leaders that ascribe unto and / or forgive said abuse are of more deserved of additional punishment than the individual abusers within mine own mind because they chose to ignore or agree within the abuse that occurred.

          Obviously, you were hurt, and for that I, for one, shall be forever sorry within your history.

          But.

          But.

          Defending individuals suffering from severe mental illness so as to force their illness unto others, threatening that anything less than acceptance and support is simply not
          ‘good’ enough is also a mental fallacy.

          You support the hidden messages within bathroom stalls within supposed ‘public’ libraries.

          Why?

          A public library is a place, supposedly, where ideas of all kinds are represented, and none of them are ‘hidden’.

          One merely needs to seek said ideas out, no?

          Either through one’s own searching, or with the assistance of one of the librarians within said library, no?

          Easily done within an open exchange of ideas establishment, is it not?

          So why the subterfuge?

          Why the secrecy?

          Is this not the same thing as ‘don’t tell anyone, this is our secret?’

          The absolute message from an abuser unto the abused?

          You have heard it before, hence your thought process, though you wish you had had the information beforehand, and of course you do, and you should have, but you did not, so now you strike out at the entire community that one individual was a part of.

          If that individual that abused you were a part of any other community, you would strike out at them within the same manner, as a wholesale condemnation of them, rather than unto the actual individual themself.

          I do not pray, but I wish you the ability to forgive yourself, and live a contented life.

          • Randy.

            Obviously you have no idea what it is like to have such severe anxiety that you can’t just walk up and have an open exchange, or being the child rape victim of your youth pastor looking for help.

            This was not a secret stunt to lure kids to be queer. It was a right on attempt to reach folks who may not use the open spaces information board.

            I have nothing against Christianity, I have a problem when self described Christians who demonstrate unChristian behavior in the same comment.

            I wish you the ability to understand my view as I have done to understand your point.

          • No I wasn’t hurt by a youth minister.

            I have friends who were though. And here in Alaska working across cultures I worked with victims of abuse by the Church.

            Look again at the unequal power structures in churches, and you will see the roots of the abuse it allows.

    • Right?! Honestly, I don’t want my kids to talk to anyone except me these days. They are little versions of me, and they should share my same values and ideals. Every time they talk to someone with different views then mine it feels like an attack on me and my own ideas, and it feels as if they are forcefully converting my child against me.

      The fact that these people talking to my kids are paid by the government frightens me. The government is bigger than me; it has the power to put people in prison; I feel powerless to stop it. When people that represent the government talk to my kids I feel like I’m powerless to stop them from converting my kid into someone that isn’t me. Into someone that challenges my ideas or calls me wrong.

      The church is familiar. I grew up going to church and it is very traditional. It stays the same throughout the years. It feels like the church is the only place that is how I remember it when I was a child. I can be sure that the church isn’t turning my child against me because they teach my child what I was taught as a child.

      • Appreciate this response

        Sounds like change is hard. I hear that.

        btw-Does your church preach anything about government? Or your power in it?

    • So you think that your kids will talk to you about their problems ? Thats a really cute idea but usually not rooted in truth. Helicopter parenting is a trend thats alarming and newsflash your kids are already looking this stuff up on the phones you give them.

  2. About the time these “helpful” librarians pay for my kid’s food, shelter, medical care, education, clothing and all other items, and about the time these librarians stay up all night caring for my kid when he is sick, drive them all over creation for various absolutely essential events, and teach my kid how to stay out of jail and become a productive member of society, then said librarians can spend their time filling my kid’s head with whatever nonsense they think kids should see and hear and indoctrinate them into their pitiful world view. Until then, sod off.

    • Unfortunately, Tamra, these “librarians”, as represented by “the state”, are all too ready to pay for anything your children want or need with money they take from others.

  3. What prevents a vigilant public from removing the “recommendations” or pasting recommendations for historical fiction, how-to, and adventure nonfiction over them?

      • Actually, Maureen, we don’t. Don’t need my son to watch the addicts having sex on the nice upholstered chairs or bathing the bathrooms. And I have noticed that most of the crap the library purchases is a monumental waste of library space anyway.

          • Maureen, sadly, you may have a point.
            .
            On the other hand, what an adventure, like taking the kids diving, hunting in the outback, you’ll see all sorts of wildlife capable of ruining your day in a heartbeat.
            .
            Don’t want to get bit, stomped, stung, sliced, mauled, poisoned, or eaten even partially, you gotta be alert, fight or flight
            .
            … in a library of all places. Who knew?
            .
            Word to the wise, offered lovingly of course… best not to annoy our inner Tamra.

          • Best that folks boss their own reaction to others.

            I’m just stating my views. It says a lot about others when their responses are threatening to folks with perhaps a different opinion.

            Also, do they realize it harms their effort to get folks to understand the responder’s view.

    • They probably go in the stalls with the kids to read them how to homosexual sex books. Right, librarians?

  4. Once my kid was hovering around the Japanese ‘Manga” section of Loussac; I went over to the spot later to see what interested him. It was Manga books about teen dating/teen sex. The stories had cartoon drawings of flirting, girls w/ out undies & a little “how to” thrown in for the kids. I took one into the bathroom & accidentally dropped it in the commode. Felt terrible, but the book was ruined at that point.

  5. I’m so old I remember when librarians only helped find things when they were asked, rather than suggesting topics that are destructive to children and their short time in childhood. I’m glad my kids are grown otherwise I would have to spend time educate them on the dangers of modern libraries and the harmful evil they are pushing, just like kids need parental education on pornography, drugs etc

  6. Let me see, I am a confused and stressed 15-year old trying to find information about a subject I am too horrified to talk about with my parents or my clergy-member. Perhaps I made a mistake. Perhaps someone is abusing me and no one believes me (this happens A LOT). Perhaps a friend is struggling with addiction, or my parents are getting a divorce and I want to learn more about it. But some heavy-handed religious fanatics have kept a lid on me looking for any help at my local or school library. Thankfully, a thoughtful librarian has placed an out-of-the-way guide for me to look up some pretty basic issues that so many teens – religious or not – go through each and every day. Still the religious radicals are mad about this and now I have no where safe to turn.

    • Sir for a supposed religious man you are very “judgey” regarding other individuals beliefs. Personally I have no problem with the list itself. These are all topics some individuals of any age struggle with. I find the placement distasteful and sneaky. Why not put it out for all to see on a bulletin board or post it with other materials on display at the counter or other places. Easy to see, but not obvious enough to make everyone know what you are looking at. For the casual observer it simply lists areas of the library where these topics may be located and are logical in conjunction with the suicide prevention hotline sticker. The current placement also seem fairly ineffectual, as in my experience hanging out at the library isn’t the cool thing to do these days for teens and visiting the bathroom does not seem to create enough foot traffic to reach a larger audience. So in my opinion the library should be upfront and post this guide in the general area instead of hiding it in the bathroom.

    • Then they come to ME, their PARENT. These are the kinds of subjects that should be the right of parents to bring up, or not bring up, with their child. To go behind parents backs and push this is a violation of the rights that parents have. This is an attack on every mom and dad that can no longer trust libraries to respect parental rights. This is why we need more parental rights bills.

      • We don’t need additional laws for YOU to BOSS YOUR OWN KIDS.

        If you don’t appreciate what the library has to offer you-don’t go. And for goodness sake-don’t take your kids there.

        The most of us love and support the idea of community supported libraries.

        • What’s wrong with bossing your own kids? Most of the time they are not mature enough to know what dangers lurk and so a quick decisive command can easily safe their life. (like running out into traffic). As they get older you have built trust to have difficult conversations and provide them with your own hard-won experience. That’s how parenting works, love, compassion and steadfastness based in principle.
          BTW all of these parents, who object to this ARE the community. Libraries used to be a place of finding one’s love for learning by picking up a book and reading about people and events or lose yourself in a fictional story. Sadly they are becoming a place for small-minded individuals, sticking their self-righteous noses in the lives of others.

          • Nothing is wrong with bossing your own kids as connected to the primary safety role of parent or guardian.

            Quit telling others to change because you don’t like what they are doing in front of kids, misses the primary role of parent.

          • Huh? Parents are not telling people to change, instead by their actions librarians are the ones demanding that parents change and accept librarians authority over the child. The primary role of a parent is to guide their child to know right from wrong and grow into a kind, respectful adult.

          • For goodness sake A Taxpayer, don’t take your kids there as it upsets you so. Also your thoughts related to your fear of what is there makes for rambling comments for you.

            Just don’t go.

          • Oh Maureen, dear, you are again deliberately obtuse and projecting. Libraries were created to provide the public with easy and free access to information. Librarians always prided themselves on providing timely information to everyone on ANY subject regardless of creed, race sex etc, without judgement. The very vast majority of their budget is derived from tax dollars, which are collected from the entire community they serve. Now however librarians decided that instead of neutral service to ALL patrons, they prioritize a small subsection of the population and promote their ideology.
            You remember a few short years ago the “Defund the police” movement? Well since public libraries no longer serve the general public,(and you made it clear that parents should stay away) maybe Soldotna parents and other community members should demand to “defund the library”. Let the group whose banner the libraries carry, support that institution and take it off the tax roll.

          • A Taxpayer in Soldotna-yes libraries are tax/bond funded.

            People can certainly vote to not support libraries in their communities if they want.

            I bet if you looked at the monthly and yearly calendars of most libraries-they promote a lot of different themes info on particular topics during the year.

    • Look Reverend, we all know that homosexuals frequently reproduce by grooming and touching kids and a healthy society has an obligation to put a stop to it.

      No sane parent or clergy member wants kids to grow up to be a homosexuals so quit shamefully dancing around like an enabler and take a stand for decency.

      • And yet you’d remembered to make use of the honorific “Rev.” when you came here to troll here in support of degenerate and subversive conduct, Marty.

        Why is that?

        Were you hoping to imply there’s some kind of moral authority or imprimatur backing your immoral positions?

          • Which is meaningful in what way other than to call attention to the rot within the Lutheran organization, Maureen?

            His endorsement of public employees undermining parents and healthy society is as atrocious as a paid “counselor”, perhaps someone like you, doling out equally horrible advice to troubled individuals seeking assistance with straightening out their messed up lives.

  7. I would tear it down. Its too negative. When loussac post stupid flyers i quietly stealthly tear it down. See this why christians must be
    Everywhere including using our public libraries.

  8. I wonder how long the librarian(s) who posted them have lived on the Kenai Peninsula? Like the Mat-Su Valley, the Left is trying to pollute the natural conservative outlook within these communities.

      • Oh, do enlighten us on this supposed “library science”, Maureen.
        This should be highly amusing, like almost all of your posts here.

        If there is one thing that can be counted on, it is the radical leftist extremists complete lack of understanding of actual science.

  9. I’m sure many of these librarians think they are helping and posting such lists are viewed similar to posting the suicide hotline. There are categories in the list that could be very helpful to a struggling young person. Sadly thought so many topics are not age appropriate and you have all ages using the bathroom. Shoving stuff on young kids they are not cognitively equipped to process yet is not in the best interest of the child.

    Many years ago most libraries were private and the publicly funded lending library did not begin in the US until the mid 1800’s. The library of congress was established in the 1700’s but was by subscription as were most libraries that were privately funded. Maybe we need to return to privately owned libraries.

    • Andrew Carnegie built over 2500 public libraries in the US between the 1880s and 1930s.

      One of the biggest winners in Capitalism thought to provide freely to us.

      • Carnegie gave away $350mm on his death bed but was never known for supporting rape, self harm, suicide, lesbians, queers, or others with socially or sexually deviant tendencies. How does your comment apply to the post you’re responding to?

          • Apparently not if there’s a logical transition from Andrew Carnegie to rape books and queers. Would you like to explain yourself or is that all you’ve got?

          • Look at the comment before mine which said historically most libraries were private. So For you with the reading comprehension skills not so acute, for a long time now, we have a public library system because a private man thought to support the communities he was connected to by his business, and far others.

          • Though correct, that is not germane to the discussion at hand. This discussion is about rape, homosexuals and other deviants.

          • Trouser Bark-I bet you didn’t notice you are the only one saying this discussion is about rape, homosexuals and other deviants.

          • Your defense of homosexuality as public entertainment suitable for children and deviant behavior as norm have become tiresome. If it is that during your final year you’re striving to be remembered as an irrational and combative lesbian, you’re winning. Shame that a prolific poster’s primary contribution might be irascibility absent reasoning.

            Now, I realize that your nature would make the male perspective an alien concept to you however, to respond directly to your assertion that this is about rape, homosexuals and other deviants I’ll offer the following. A young person that’s been harmed by someone else may find solace in being randomly fed references to books wherein someone else may or may not have had a similar experience. A young man with a ton of as yet untethered testosterone coursing through his veins could easily be inclined to view such documents in a much less positive manner. Your approach is counterproductive and akin to seeing a patient w/ AIDS so everyone must begin AZT therapy.

            For being a counselor there’s a tremendous amount of poignant detail that slips by you.

  10. I constantly ask why adults are trying to sexualize children. Librarians are now the WORST OFFENDERS. Didn’t we used to call these people pedophiles? Groomers?
    This is grooming, in plain and simple terms.
    It only hardens our children to sex and violence, and then depresses them cause its WRONG.
    WTF! Adults, wake up, we all need to get on the truth track. I would hate to be a kid in these times, dealing with so much adult material….
    There are only two genders/sexes MALE and FEMALE. First truth will align the rest of the truth. Stop sexualizing our children.
    The first issue we must address is why are we affirming the mental confusion of boys/men and putting the safety of girls/women in jeopardy by allowing mentally confused boys/men to use girls/women’s spaces?
    Rhe second issue is why the school and library STAFF believe they have the right to create a toxic relationship between parent and child. They are PAID to EDUCATE, not INDICTRINATE.

  11. This is laughable!!!Posting a suggestion for “special books” in bathroom stalls???? That’s suspicious.

    • Or very appropriate for KIDS WHO ARE QUITE AFRAID BECAUSE THEY ARE ABUSED AND NEED HELP.

      Or do you have any idea what it is like to have severe anxiety over deep depression because of abuse or injury to the brain or the brain is just that way? Verbally asking the librarian is not an option. Shame is felt because of it and failure’s the option. Now put in that you were sexually assaulted by your pastor at age 6 and now at age 30 you have only the horrible memories and the verbiage of a 6 year old because no one wanted to talk about it.

      • The library is not the appropriate place to deal with abuse issues. A counseling office is. And you know it. The reason you want these vunerable children in the library so you and your pedophile ring buddies can prey upon them even more. Maureen Suttman, you are a child sexual predator. You need to be investigated. Perhaps you already are.

        • Well, sometimes a police station visit perhaps, to report safely a crime or crimes against them, instead ofcounseling first. You and I know counseling is key, child or adult not neccesarily. Especially if the victim has only been told to take problems to the altar, and the altar was part of the problem.

          I know there are a number preparitory steps it takes for so many to get to a counseling office.

          Fire-as expressed previously here-I have been wrongfully acused of child sexual abuse as a professional counselor and professional counselor supervisor. I was investigated by the police, OCS, my state licensing entity-the whole shebang. Oh an got the out of her mind try to get me to agree I purposely harmed the child in the way she said mom call that was a police connected call. I’ve heard all the vitriole before. Oh, and experienced a co-workers attack when they got the state’s document about me and my plan of action-they put it in every emplyee’s mailbox in my section. It has client identifying information in it. Besides the cruel attack on me, they broke HIPAA as the client was from a different health organization.

          I got a year of probation, extra training requirements, that got cut early as I was doing everything that was asked. I kept both my licenses, and got out of counseling roles for fear of some other distraught parent wrongfully accusing me again. Oh, and I am on a national registry that says I was accused once.

          So go fo it.

        • Already been through a investigation for that. I put a bigger explanation of what it is was like here, but it was rejected.

          Go for it Fire. Albeit you are late to that party. I wish you the experience of false accusal of child abuse.

  12. Regarding posting info in bathroom stalls. I’ve seen it done all over the country. It (allegedly) is a way to communicate useful info to an audience with time on its hands.

    This is the first time I’ve seen it promoting this kind of material. Usually it was news of upcoming events of interest.

      • Are you saying that these pearls of wisdom from Soldotna librarians carry the same value as some of the truly original works, like:

        Don’t beam me up now Scotty,
        I’m taking a
        shi
        l
        l
        l
        l

        l

        l

  13. I can only hope that the average parent is able to put this much effort into filtering or monitoring their children’s internet connection.

  14. The amount of hysterical fear mongering in this is amazing. Look parents you might want to consider that
    #1) your helicopter parenting style alienates your kids from many things, and doesn’t build trust for them to talk about whats happening in their lives much. It’s actually the same as when you were kids if you were honest about it.

    #2.) The phones you give them at the age of 10 or whatever, I promise they are already looking at porn and these very topics that you rage about with ZERO control. Even if you think you put a blocker in place, trust me they can get around them and you wont know.

    #3.) If you think that “grooming” or “Mentoring” isn’t already happening by churches, civic groups, LGBTQ groups etc isn’t happening you’re honestly a fool. From the dawn of time and organizations they ALL fight for influential minds to grab, meld, twist or pervert depending on the slant (right/left).

    The problem in 2023 is 90% of parents let the TV, the iPad or whatever raise their kids and there is little to no consistency in how they parent. Sorry thats the facts, don’t believe me ? look how many kids are glued to those things in church, school, when they are suppose to be camping etc.

    Instead of raging against the boogie man try putting that effort into having logical conversations with your kids (when they are old enough of course). But it seems like alot of Must Read Alaska readers seem to go off on the “fire them all” rants and rage like 1/2 cocked teenagers instead of acting like adults

  15. First of all, it says in the post that this is at the public library, NOT the school library. Secondly, how is it any diffferent than having signs posted in bathrooms about human trafficking in airports? Or information about STAR (Standing Together Against Rape) that I have seen posted in church bathrooms?

    Yes, parents should be concerned about the information their kids have access too, but seems to me they’d be much more likely to come across more explicit, sensitive information from magazine headlines in the grocery store check-out line, (not to mention the internet). It’s much easier for parents to restrict and monitor kids access to books, particularly when their parents have to drive them to the library.
    Even 20 years ago, I wasn’t allowed to check out whatever I wanted at the library. Why do parents think that they shouldn’t need to do this anymore? And then get upset when other people aren’t doing it for them ?

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