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Jenna Book Back on Houston Library Shelves

Houston- In a reversal of an earlier decision, porn queen Jenna Jameson’s autobiography will be placed on public shelves of the Houston Public Library once copies are returned by patrons who have the book checked out or are waiting for it. Last month, Mayor Bill White sidestepped a long-running committee process set up by Houston’s library system to review complaints about library books.

Responding to a complaint from Councilwoman Pam Holm that Jameson’s book, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, had been prominently displayed in a west Houston branch library, the mayor ordered all copies of the book in the system to be relocated to closed stacks in the central library that are not accessible to the public.

Patrons have to ask specifically to browse or check out books in the closed stacks.

Because the library’s 12 copies of Jameson’s best-seller have been checked out for months, White’s initial decision and the reversal this week are policy rulings that have not involved physical relocations of the book.

“This is a great victory for the First Amendment and people’s right to read,” said Randall Kallinen, president of the Houston chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which had threatened to sue the city over the decision to put the book on closed shelves.

The best-selling book contains Jameson’s lurid confessions and some nude photos.

Since White’s initial decision, the waiting list for the book has grown from more than 20 to 41 on Friday, said White’s spokesman, Frank Michel.

A library system internal memo dated Feb. 1 said a review committee recommended that the books be relocated to the fine arts and recreation section on the third floor of the central library. Books in that section include celebrity biographies.

Michel said Friday that White’s decision last month was a temporary measure designed to address community concerns quickly, and that White always anticipated that a library committee would make a final decision.

But no city officials made that claim when the Houston Chronicle published a story Jan. 27 revealing White’s decision.

At the time, Michel said, “We’re trying to take action quickly, and we didn’t see a need to go through a long bureaucratic process.”

Also at the time, Toni Lambert, interim director of the Houston Public Library, issued a news release calling White’s decision “a reasonable solution.”

Holm said she never was told White’s decision was temporary, adding she is “in the dark” about why the committee that issued the Feb. 1 memo was formed.

Kallinen said the ACLU contended that it was a violation of free speech to move the book to closed stacks because of its content. The organization sent a letter to the city Tuesday threatening to sue.

Kallinen said he was told Friday of the new decision to place the book on public shelves.

Holm said she was satisfied because the committee wrote in the memo that the library system should more carefully scrutinize books that could potentially be displayed in prominent areas before buying them.

Kallinen said the ACLU was concerned that such action would lead to decisions about display based on content, adding the group will monitor the situation.

 

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