The Oskaloosa Public Library had planned a reading program for last week based on the four fantasy novels following Harry Potter's adventures as he learns about magic and wizardry. An ad in The Oskaloosa Independent promoted the program as "Muggle Studies" for "aspiring young witches and wizards."
In the best-selling books by British author J.K. Rowling, Muggle is the term wizards use to describe ordinary humans. In Oskaloosa, at least a handful of residents were unhappy enough about the program that the library's board canceled the event.
Librarian Paula Ware said a small group of Oskaloosa residents thought the program would teach children about witchcraft.
"They felt very threatened by the evil factor in the book," she told The Lawrence Journal-World.
Ware said a storyteller was going to give the same 45-minute presentation already performed at several Kansas City-area libraries.
But two weeks ago, the library board called a special meeting after the advertisement appeared.
Initially, after a closed meeting, the board refused to cancel the program. But when an audience member threatened to file an open meetings lawsuit, the board reversed itself.
"Some of them said they acted hastily, but it doesn't help the kids who wanted to come to the program," Ware said.
Ware said she doesn't have time to put up a fight and wants to put the incident behind her. She noted that children still can check out the Harry Potter books.
"It's my busiest time of the year, and I don't want to enter into a confrontation," she said. "But if this had been about banning the books, I would have taken this to the Supreme Court."
Kim Smith, a library board member, said she regrets that the program was canceled, adding, "It's just storytelling."
Since the first book was released, a few schools have banned the books from their shelves. Last year, there were more than 25 challenges in 17 states to having Harry Potter on the shelves of school libraries, according to the American Library Association.
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