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Palin to Wasilla Librarian: Are You OK With Censorship?

ANCHORAGE -- Tuesday afternoon, the Mat-Su Frontiersman, in Wasilla, hosted me in their offices so I could dig through their print archives to get a sense of

Elisa Mueller
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Sep 03, 2008

ANCHORAGE — Tuesday afternoon, the Mat-Su Frontiersman, in Wasilla, hosted me in their offices so I could dig through their print archives to get a sense of Gov. Sarah Palin’s tenure as mayor there.

I photocopied one story, from December 1996, about Palin’s run-in with Wasilla’s director of libraries, Mary Ellen Emmons. The article is in line with what several commenters mentioned here a few days ago. Emmons says that in October and December, 1996, the year Palin took office, the new mayor asked her if she would tolerate censorship of library books.

According to the article, Palin’s response to the accusation was to say that the discussions were “in the context of a professional question being asked in regards to library policy.”

The next month Palin left a letter on Emmons desk asking her to resign. It said, ”I do not feel I have your full support in my efforts to govern the city of Wasilla. Therefore I intend to terminate your employment ….”

The Anchorage Daily News reported at the time, as did the Frontiersman, that the conflict was over whether to restructure the local library and museum operations. After some discussions, Palin seems to have decided Emmons was willing to toe the line. She kept her job as library director.

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.


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