A 43-year-old Japanese comic book and animation fan says he was a victim of age discrimination because a Beaufort County employee wouldn't let him attend a club meeting for teenagers at the Bluffton library earlier this month.
The county's library director, however, said it's simply a case of a miscommunication that's been blown out of proportion.
The library has a series of clubs and programs aimed at children and teenagers.
In this case, library director Wlobek Zaryczny said that because of an oversight, one manga club flyer failed to denote that the meeting was age-limited. Manga is the Japanese word for comics.
"I've been an anime (Japanese for animation) fan for years," said C.J. Palmer, the Bluffton resident. He had brought a backpack full of old mangas and anime to share with the group.
Unaware of the age limit, Palmer said he was upset when he was barred from the meeting and furious at how he was treated by library employees when he tried to file a complaint.
He said he's contacted the American Civil Liberties Union about a possible lawsuit.
A weekly library events calendar reads "Anime/manga enthusiasts welcome!" and lists a date, time and location, but no age limit. According to Zaryczny and Palmer, one of two flyers for the event also failed to list the age limit.
Zaryczny said that "one of the flyers does not indicate age, and I could certainly see where there could be confusion there. ... Just call it a slip-up on our end. We should have indicated teens only."
"The best we can do is to apologize that there was this oversight on this one particular flyer," he said.
Zaryczny also said he wanted to apologize to Palmer "for his time and effort coming to the meeting."
"But to say that there was age discrimination is incorrect," Zaryczny said.
If it's discriminatory to set age limits, "we couldn't have any programs for children or for teens," he said.
Zaryczny said the genre has a following nationwide and suggested that if there's enough local interest, the library would consider starting a manga club for adults.