Dear Editor,

As the Director of the Ottumwa Public Library I wanted to take a moment and respond to the letter to the editor published Thursday by Matt Pringle.

In his letter Mr. Pringle specifically identifies a book available in the Ottumwa Public Library titled, “Growing Up Trans: In Our Words,” edited by Lindsay Herriot and Kate Fry. According to our online card catalog description by the publisher, “This illustrated nonfiction anthology is a collection of stories, essays, poetry and art by transgender youth.” This book is located in our children’s non-fiction area under 305.230867 Gro. It is a compilation of children’s writings based on their lived experiences.

If you go a little further back on that same shelf we have the book, “Treasury of Bible Stories,” by Donna Jo Napoli located at 240.95 NAP in the children’s area.

At the Ottumwa Public Library we have a collection development policy. This policy helps us in determining what we put in our collection. It is a thorough document and one portion states, “The Ottumwa Public Library collects, organizes, and makes available materials of contemporary significance and long-term value for our patrons.”

This also goes along with our vision statement in the library which is, “The Ottumwa Public Library strives to provide opportunities, space, service, and resources for the members of the community to expand their knowledge, imagination and perspective on the world that is open to everyone.”

There is an often used saying that a good library has something to offend everyone. We don’t expect everyone in our community to like every item in our collection. I would venture to guess that anyone who visits us could leave with a book they will fall in love with, a book that will alter the way they look at the world and a book that would offend them. Our collection is meant to be broad and inclusive. It is meant to represent our entire community.

We live in a diverse community and it is a goal of our library to provide access to materials, especially in our children’s area, that reflect that diversity. We want kids to identify with the characters and storylines in our fiction books. We want children who are going through difficult situations and questioning things about themselves or the world around them to find perspective in what we provide. All of that being said, not every book is meant for every reader and that is ok too.

We appreciate the support we receive every day as we do our best to serve the entire Ottumwa Community.


Sonja Ferrell, Director Ottumwa Public Library

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