- Metropolitan Library System (Oklahoma)
Metropolitan Library System Country United States of America Location Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Branches 17 Collection Size Over 1 million  Access and use Access requirements Resident of Oklahoma County Other information Budget $52.3 million (2008)  Staff 400 Website http://www.metrolibrary.org
The Metropolitan Library System is a public library system that serves Oklahoma County, Oklahoma. It consists of 12 full-service libraries as well as 5 smaller extension libraries. The system serves anyone who lives, attends school, or owns property in Oklahoma County.
Metropolitan's service area includes the majority of the Oklahoma City city limits, as well as many suburbs that surround Oklahoma City that are located in Oklahoma County. In addition to those that live outside of Oklahoma County, the system also allows those served by the Pioneer Library System (which includes Cleveland, McClain, and Pottawatomie counties) to check out materials via a reciprocal borrowing agreement, and also allows non-residents to borrow materials if they pay an annual fee.
The system offers a variety of programs to serve residents of Oklahoma County. These include a "Books By Mail" service for elderly and home-bound individuals, a collection operated in nursing homes, as well as a variety of enrichment programs for children, teens, and adults.
The library is governed by the 27-member Metropolitan Library commission: 13 of its members are appointed by the Mayor of Oklahoma City, 11 are appointed by various cities within the Library's service area, and one is appointed by the Board of County Commissioners of Oklahoma County. The other two seats are occupied by the Mayor of Oklahoma City and the chair of the Board of County Commissioners.
Metropolitan Library System operates 17 locations: 12 full-service libraries, and 5 smaller "extension" libraries.
- Belle Isle Library
- Capitol Hill Library
- Downtown Library
- Ralph Ellison Library
- Southern Oaks Library
- Wright Library (extension library)
Other cities in Oklahoma County
- Bethany Library
- Choctaw Library
- Del City Library
- Edmond Library
- Harrah Library (extension library)
- Jones Library (extension library)
- Luther Library (extension library)
- Midwest City Library
- Nicoma Park Library (extension library)
- The Village Library
- Warr Acres Library
The Metropolitan Library System has been involved in a number of controversies and accusations of censorship. Many express concern that extreme cultural conservatives exercise an inordinate amount of power over the system.
"The Tin Drum" controversy
In 1997, the system was placed in the center of a dispute regarding the film "The Tin Drum". The conservative group "Oklahomans for Children and Families" checked out the film, as well as other material from the Library, and began accusing the library of being a harbor for "obscene" material, including the film in question. Members of the group began attending meetings of city councils around Oklahoma County, and were able to convince a number of these cities to pass resolutions regarding the group's goals.
Eventually one of the group's leaders turned over a copy of the film to local police. This resulted in the film being declared obscene by Oklahoma County District Judge Richard Freeman; as a result, all known copies of the film were seized from both libraries as well as individuals who had rented copies from video stores. However, the film's prohibited status was eventually revoked after the film's ban provoked further controversy and allegations of censorship.
"Controversial" Children's Books
In August 2005, the Library Commission voted 10-7 to move "easy, easy-reader, and tween" books containing "sensitive or controversial" themes to an area that could only be accessed by adults. The decision was based primarily on concern by cultural conservatives that books that advocate acceptance of homosexuality, such as "King and King", were accessible by children. Staff of the Library system opposed such restrictions, and the American Library Association strongly condemned the decision. Prior, state representative Sally Kern had spearheaded an effort to keep such books away from children; in May 2005, the Oklahoma House passed a nonbinding resolution to "confine homosexually themed books and other age-inappropriate material to areas exclusively for adult access and distribution", primarily due to Kern's efforts.
The Commission's decision was implemented in February 2006 as a "Family Talk" section that contained such controversial content. Further restrictions were added in November 2008, when the Commission added the requirement that such material must be placed at least 60 inches off the ground in order to be out of the reach of many children.
In December 2008, bloggers James Miko and Wayne Fuller accused Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett of working with Steve Kern, the husband of Rep. Sally Kern and pastor of Olivet Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, to make nominations to the Metropolitan Library Commission based on the issue of disallowing children access to such controversial books. The "Gossip Boy" blog had obtained a copy of a leaked conversation with Kern, where he mentioned his nominees for the Commission and mentioned that one "won’t take a lick of nonsense from the homos." Kern also stated that he believes that courts should be able to force gays and lesbians into treatment centers, in a similar manner to drug offenders. A 2006 radio ad credited Cornett for having made similar efforts in the past.
- ^ a b [Information http://www.mls.lib.ok.us/mls/information.htm]
- ^ [2008 Annual Report http://www4.mls.lib.ok.us/mls/mls_news/2009/annual_report_2008.pdf]
- ^ a b c [About Us http://www4.mls.lib.ok.us/mls/aboutus.htm]
- ^ [Locations http://www4.mls.lib.ok.us/mls/locations.htm]
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