Anne Kilkenny comments on the Sarah Palin book banning story

Well, she comments a little bit.
Anne Kilkenny is the Wasilla, AK resident who wrote a lengthy email to friends about Sarah Palin. The email has gone viral. has verified it and it is posted on the Anchorage Daily News website. Mrs. Kilkenny is a registered Democrat and appears to be in the 20% of Alaskans who do not approve of Palin’s work as Governor.
In her email, Mrs. Kilkenny said Sarah Palin tried to remove the town librarian, saying:

While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin’s attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.

I wrote Mrs. Kilkenny to ask on what books she thought Palin wanted removed. Critics have protrayed this episode as censorship. On the other hand, it is possible that the books in question were inappropriate or books about which many people would disagree. Mrs. Kilkenny wrote back with what at first seemed like a canned email.

Hello, My name is Anne Kilkenny. I wrote a piece on Sarah Palin which is posted on the following website with my permission: I’m sorry that I cannot reply personally and directly to your email, but email is coming in faster than I can even read it. I applaud you for trying to verify the things that you receive before you send them around the internet. I have learned several things from this experience. #1) I’m impressed with how hard the press is working and how fast they have gotten up to speed on this very small town’s political history. The people in the regular media are doing a pretty doggone good job. The reports I’m reading in the newspapers and seeing on the major networks are as close to totally accurate as is reasonable to expect, given this imperfect world and the fact that everyone has had to go from zero to 60 in under 2 seconds, #2) How wonderful my fellow American are. People are NOT into the Karl Rovian politics of personal destruction. Americans are idealists; we desperately want to find someone to vote FOR and to believe in, and we keep looking for that perfect candidate.

It is hard to miss her clear political views here. I think her email regarding Palin should be read with this in mind. However, then she answers my questions about the books at issue.

I’m sorry I don’t know which books Sarah Palin wanted removed from the Wasilla Public Library collection. Censorship is censorship: what difference does it make which books? Over the years, City Librarians had selected books for the colletion [sic] based on standard professional guidelines. Thank you for taking your responsibilities as a citizen so seriously, Anne

A couple of observations here. Probably any lists which are being circulated on the web are not accurate. I do think it matters which books were at issue. I am not as trusting as Mrs. Kilkenny in the “standard professional guidelines” of librarians. Periodically, books are purchased which are not appropriate for kids and parents have valid concerns. Raising these concerns about what kids read is not censorship in my view, it is an effort to have a voice in establishing kid-friendly community standards.
Socially liberal and conservative people conflict over this matter frequently. Is it censorship to restrict sexually explicit movies to adults? Or is it proper guidance of youth? Knowing the books Palin was concerned about is quite relevant to charges of censorship.
UPDATE – 9/8/08
Charles Martin at Explorations continues to unearth lots of material regarding the Palin rumor. He has a link to this 1996 article reprinted in a local Wasilla, AK paper regarding the controversy over the library. I think this piece clears up most questions regarding the matter. She asked for no books to be banned, nor did she ask the librarian to engage in censorship.