The director of the Foley Public Library is leaving Alabama two months after a controversy concerning inappropriate books in the children and teen section.
John Jackson was hired by the Campbell County Public Library System in Wyoming as its executive director.
The system's former director, Terri Lesley, was fired on July 28 following the discovery of what some called pornography in the children and teen sections of the Gillette Library. Lesley said she believed the public was being harmed by being unable to access various information. After being fired, she filed a lawsuit against the library system for discrimination and members of a family who reportedly defamed her by writing Letters to the Editor accusing her of illegal activity.
When residents in Foley voiced concerns in August about similar material, Jackson told 1819 News he would not remove inappropriate material from the children or young adult sections if he saw it.
"I have the ability to take it off the shelf, but I will not take it off the shelf because I will not be self-censoring," Jackson said. "I will not fall into the trap to becoming a censor and a book-banner because once you do that, where do you stop? You then become ruled by whatever anyone comes in and says they find offensive. I'm sure that someone could find content in virtually any book on the shelf offensive based on their personal beliefs, so once you start book banning, there's no end to it."
Jackson said he would stand against censorship and that moves against the books were also against constitutional rights.
After Jackson's resignation, Mayor Ralph Hellmich praised Jackson's work with the library.
"John has done an outstanding job with our library since taking over," Hellmich said. "Under his leadership, the library's record of excellence has been outstanding. It has been voted Best in Baldwin many times and is one of the busiest in Baldwin. I have no doubt John will succeed at his new bigger challenge in Wyoming. Thank you Mr Jackson."
Jackson has been the director of the Foley Library since 2013. Before that, he was the director of the Baldwin County Archives and History Department.
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