- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2005

DENVER — The Denver Public Library plans to cancel four of its 14 subscriptions to graphic Spanish-language fotonovelas after an outcry over their explicit content and the library’s growing Spanish collection.

The library pulled its 6,569 fotonovelas off the shelves Aug. 4 after press reports on the adult comic books. After a staff review, four of the series were determined to be “inappropriate for the collection because of their consistent portrayal of sexually explicit content.”

Books from the remaining fotonovela series will be returned to the shelves, the library said.

Still, critics said, the issue was unlikely to disappear, given the complaints about the library system’s move to replace English books at some branches with Spanish, as well as what they called its lax policies on adult materials.

“The greater issue is what’s going on at the Denver Public Library,” said Mike McGarry, a spokesman for the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform (CAIR).

“They’re doing this big multicultural cram-down where they’re getting rid of English books and replacing them with Spanish books. And they’re very duplicitous about it,” Mr. McGarry said.

The library has announced a proposal to convert seven of its branches to “Language and Learning” centers that will feature a focus on Spanish-language materials. The plan has yet to be approved by the Denver Public Library Commission, but critics said the branches already are clearing out shelves of English books in favor of Spanish.

“I recently visited the Woodbury branch, and it looked like half the bottom floor was in Spanish,” CAIR director Fred Elbel said. “And it didn’t seem to be overly intellectual — it was magazines, movies. You’re seeing the library dumb down its collection to draw in the illegal immigration population.”

Craig Silverman, a talk-show host at KHOW-AM in Denver, said he was still concerned about the library’s refusal to stop children from checking out adult materials. Head librarian Rick Ashton has said it is the parents’ job to oversee what their children check out, not the library’s.

“The Denver Public Library carries some very adult material, not just in Spanish, but in English,” said Mr. Silverman, referring to movies with R and NC-17 ratings. “And a 12-year-old with a library card can check it out.”

The library commission has agreed to begin a study of its collections policies and procedures next month.

Critics also chalked up the fotonovelas to the push for higher circulation.

“The key thing the library wants is incredible circulation numbers, and they don’t care how they get it,” Mr. Silverman said.

Lisa Duran, director of Rights for All People, an immigration-rights group, said the library’s only crime was to become caught in the cross hairs of the anti-immigration lobby.

“My biggest concern is that the people pushing for the removal of fotonovelas have couched their arguments in xenophobic and racist rhetoric,” she said. “They seem to be much more angry about who’s using the library and not what’s in it.”

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