The Citrus County, Florida Commissioners who refused a request by local libraries to fund digital subscriptions to the New York Times. Starting on the left, their names are: Jeff Kinnard, Brian Coleman, Scott Carnahan, Ronald Kitchen and Jimmy Smith.
On October 24th, all five members of the Citrus County Commissioners rejected a request from their local library to fund digital subscriptions to the New York Times which would cost $2,700 annually. Did they do this because the funds aren’t available? No. Here’s how the discussion went.
County Commissioner Ron Kitchen: Do we really need to subscribe to the New York Times?
Scott Carnahan: I was actually going to say that. Fake news. I agree with President Trump.
Carnahan continues: I don’t want the New York Times in this county. I don’t agree with it. I don’t like ‘em, it’s fake news and I’m voting no. They can take that money and do something else with it. I support Donald Trump.
The rest of the commissioners agreed, making a point to say their refusal wasn’t due to a lack of resources and that the 70,000 library card holders who reside in Citrus County can simply get home delivery.
You all know by now how I feel regarding censorship particularly in public libraries. Politics should NEVER play a role in what materials are approved to be funded. While the esteemed commissioners may not be fans of the New York Times, there are library users who are. Many of who are on a fixed income and can’t afford a yearly subscription. Sandy Price who is the advisory board chairman for the county’s libraries said in an interview with The Citrus County Chronicle: Someone’s personal political view does not have a place in deciding what library resources are available for the entire county. Libraries have to ensure all points of view are represented.
It’s worth noting that the Chronicle also reported that the four commissioners who agreed to be interviewed stated they do not read the Times. And that is their right. However, they don’t have the right to deny library users access to material they personally don’t agree with. Only one commissioner told the paper they would be willing to revisit this decision, despite heavy backlash from constituents.