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"Library Watchdog" targets Lexington Park Library

Lexington Park, MD- A new blogpost from SafeLibraries raised concerns about TheBayNet.com’s recent article: Lexington Park Library planning extra security.

Dan Kleinman, a self-proclaimed “library watchdog” recently threatened to sue St. Mary’s County Library over a planned Sex Education class for teens on Sunday, May 21. Here’s an excerpt from Kleinman’s email to TheBayNet.com: “The library board needs to comply with its own meeting room policy.  Anything that happens as a result of its failure to comply with policy will be the library board's own doing, not the whistleblowers. Library boards need to follow their own policies just like any other public body does.  There's no exception for librarians.”

TheBayNet.com asked Kleinman what policy the library is violating? His response: “The library board itself made a statement about why it cancelled that first meeting, and that statement applies to the second meeting since the meeting room policy states, in the only bold typeface in the entire policy because it is obviously so important, ‘Any use of the room which disturbs library customers or operations is prohibited.’ Well, in the very unusual circumstance of this case where the library board itself has already determined patrons will be ‘disturbed,’ their word, not mine, their policy, not mine, the library board is violating its own policy.  Period.  Case closed.

TheBayNet.com reached out to Library Director Michael Blackwell for comment. “Our attorney has sent Mr. Kleinman notice that all of his claims have no merit. It is not the program that’s causing a disturbance, it’s protesters from an outside group who might disturb the library, not the program itself.”

Kleinman also raised concerns about the additional security being added in response to some community concerns over the planned workshop: “The library is getting security at public expense for the meeting, namely, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department, as I learned from your story.  Isn't that interesting that the policy prohibits ‘Any use of the room which disturbs library customers or operations is prohibited’?  Clearly the need to hire or arrange for security for a ‘non-library function’ disturbs operations, no?” Blackwell’s response to that, “Again, all of his claims lack merit.”

In TheBayNet.com’s article about additional security at the library, we addressed fliers being distributed on vehicles in the parking lot of the Lexington Park Library. Blackwell said, “They cannot do that. It’s in violation of our no solicitation policy and we have asked them to stop.” Kleinman also believes the library is violating freedom of speech. “The solicitation is about commercial solicitation and explicitly allows ‘Non-profit and community organizations, advocacy groups and individuals who wish to distribute flyers, engage in petition drives or advocacy activities…’  Only they ‘must be approved by the Director at least 2 weeks in advance,’ which is, as we see in this case, a suppression of free speech. Those fliers are free speech under the First Amendment, raising a public and political issue about the library itself.” Blackwell responded, “It’s a protection of my library customers against a nuisance.” Blackwell concluded, “We will continue to give great this county customer service and resources and all are welcome to use us.”

Kleinman also claimed he never received a request for comment from TheBayNet.com, however, an email request was sent on Wednesday, May 17 at 4:04 p.m. 

This back and forth debate between Kleinman and St. Mary’s County Library stems from a controversial, voluntary, sex education workshop for teenagers. Parents are not permitted. The Southern Maryland Area Secular Humanist (SMASH) is hosting certified sex educator Bianca Palmisano. Parents are not permitted because Palmisano said she wants the teens to feel comfortable asking questions about sex without their parents present. Parents will be asked to sign a consent form on Sunday before their teen attends the class.

You can read more about the planned workshop here

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

Kleinman’s response to TheBayNet.com’s article here.
 

St. Mary’s County’s library meeting room policy
 

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