February 17, 2018

After Complaint, Library Refuses To Take Down Mel Gibson Poster

By LJ Staff

The presence of actor Mel Gibson, lately notorious for drunken, anti-Semitic remarks, on American Library Association (ALA) "Read" posters led some librarians on electronic mailing lists to discuss whether to replace the posters. But recently the Schaumburg Township District Library, IL, got two patron complaints about that very same poster, and the story rocketed around the world. The Chicago Tribune report actually got it wrong, library director Michael Madden told LJ, since it identified Gibson’s Braveheart poster (one of three at the library, actually) as the one at issue. The first complainant, who thought the poster portrayed an inappropriate role model for youth, asked that the library board – not the staff – evaluate the complaint.

The board did so, at its meeting Sept. 19, and within minutes dismissed the complaint unanimously. It would be complicating, said Madden, who recommended against taking down the poster, "if we start removing things based on what a person says." He added, "The thing that amazes me is that this made the national news. We didn’t consider this a major issue; it was like a patron being upset about our book drop. It was routine." The book in the poster, interestingly enough, is George Orwell’s 1984, which board president Anita Forte-Scott noted during the discussion, according to the Pioneer Press.