Protests Prompt Provo to Remove, Reshelve Free Weekly

Protests Prompt Provo to Remove, Reshelve Free Weekly

A complaint from a Provo (Utah) City Library patron has prompted officials to begin offering the free Salt Lake City Weekly as of March 4, some three months after another user’s objection to the alternative newspaper’s sometimes-explicit content and cover stories caused the library to stop making stacks of the City Weekly available for distribution in the lobby.

Director Gene Nelson began revisiting the December decision with trustees and city Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Parker in late February, after patron Andrew Thompson voiced his dismay that the library no longer carried the City Weekly. “It is not the role of a public library, anywhere in the United States, to censor what people are allowed to read,” Thompson asserted.

Noting that patrons would never confuse the City Weekly with the Deseret Morning News, Nelson said in the March 5 Salt Lake Tribune, “I do feel very strongly that the main focus and purpose of a public library is to make sure that voices are heard—both majority voices and minority voices.”

The solution devised by Nelson, Parker, and the trustees was for the library to retain only one copy of every newspaper, including the alternative weekly, and to shelve them all together on the second floor. A satisfied Thompson said he was “only sorry this had to become an issue in the first place.” But patron Dee Palmer told the Tribune, “This never was a First Amendment issue,” but rather “about standing for decency and against obscenity.”

Posted March 11, 2005.