Ads prompt libraries to put newspaper out of sight

By The Associated Press | Posted - Jun. 30, 2014 at 8:20 a.m.

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GROSSE POINTE PARK, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit library system will keep copies of a free weekly newspaper behind the counter following complaints that it carries sexually explicit advertisements.

The Grosse Pointe Library Board voted 7-0 on Thursday to stack the Metro Times out of sight, the Detroit Free Press reported ( ). Some complained that the advertisements promoted human trafficking.

"We're taking this out of the vestibules and we'll have it behind the counter from now on," library board president Brian Garves said.

Metro Times Editor-in-Chief Valerie Vande Panne said the library board's decision is hypocritical, she said, because books with risque passages, profanity and hate speech sit openly on library shelves. She said complaints about sex trafficking should be taken to police, not to librarians or local City Council members.

At a recent meeting of the Grosse Pointe Park City Council, officials shunned a request to ban the newspaper, insisting that constitutional freedom-of-speech guarantees would trigger a lawsuit if the city tried to ban such a widely accepted publication.

Library patrons will have to ask for copies of Metro Times and distribution will be "at the discretion of the librarian," according to the resolution. The Free Press reported that only people 18 and older or accompanied by an adult are likely to get one.

The libraries in Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Farms and Grosse Pointe Woods serve residents of the five Grosse Pointe communities.

Andrea LaVigne, 49, of Grosse Pointe Park called the ads "portals" for illegal activity, noting they feature photos of men stripped to the waist and women in lingerie, as well as invitations for services.

"It's not just raunchy images," LaVigne said.

The Metro Times sits in plain view at the Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham as well as the three branches of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, their directors said.

"Life and libraries are about choices and the freedom to read," Larry Neal, director of the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, said in an email.


Information from: Detroit Free Press,

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