From the Chilliwack Progress Archives: Playboy mags banned from local libraries

Did a library board step over the line into censorship with a controversial vote in 1979?

Since first publishing on April 16, 1891 the Chilliwack Progress has been the newspaper of record in Chilliwack.

One hundred and 28 years later the Progress remains the longest continuously published newspaper in British Columbia. With the addition of a thriving digital operation anchored by theprogress.com, the Progress delivers more news to more people than ever before.

‘From the Progress Archives’ is a journey into the past, to see what was making news decades ago.

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Headline: Playboy banned from local regional libraries

Date: March 7, 1979

Reporter: Unknown

Playboy magazine will no longer be purchased for shelves of Fraser Valley Regional Library branches.

Motion to this effect was approved by a majority of the library board of management members, at the regular monthly meeting held in Langley District on Wednesday.

Subject was brought before the board by Matsqui mayor Harry DeJong who stated “In my opinion, magazines such as Playboy, Playgirl and Penthouse should not be made available to the public through our library system.”

He suggested that magazines of this type are equal to some of the movies provided on our television screens which are in “bad taste” and not appreciated by the majority of the general public.

“I don’t believe we wish to see our library system accept magazines of this type for the same reasons and also because the contents are of a demoralizing nature,” he continued.

He was told there are no Playgirl and Penthouse magazines in the regional library system, and that Playboy magazine had been requested only in Chilliwack, Yarrow and Port Coquitlam branches.

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In addition to these three branches, the bookmobile and the headquarters reference section each have a subscription.

Township Alderman Dorothy Kostrzewa stated on Tuesday that banning of Playboy magazine from public libraries is unwarranted censorship in the reading habits of the public.

Herself a member of the Fraser Valley Regional Library Board, Ald. Kostrzewa said she was present at last week’s meeting and voted against the banning motion.

She referred to the library act which she said she believes in, and added that restricting the public’s reading material in this manner sets a dangerous precedent.

Ald. Kostrzewa said she hopes the question can be discussed at the next board meeting to study further why the board is moving into this area of censoring reading material.

Port Coquitlam alderman Michael Wright said he was against censorship of this kind. He pointed out that the Canadian Library Association’s statement on intellectual freedom had been adopted by the Fraser Valley Regional Library as policy in May 1977.

White Rock alderman Margaret Lower said she was against library finances being spent on “books of this kind.”

Board chairman Don Porter said college libraries keep several copies on hand because they are requested frequently.

Mission alderman John Luers said he agreed with Mayor DeJong that the system didn’t have to carry these magazines and people could buy them.

Agassiz alderman Ted Dunn said he felt this type of magazine was against the family image and should not be carried in the library, or stores.

Pitt Meadows alderman Joan Norris said she felt buying books of this nature was a waste of money when the board was so short of money.

Just before voting on the issue, chairman Porter asked board members if they should take on the role of censors.

“I hope all the members think carefully before voting as this concerns more than a magazine,” he said.

Following the vote, Ald. Wright said he was going to bring a list of books he felt unacceptable in a library to the next board meeting. Among these he would include Harlequin Romances.


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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