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Prattville library board committee urges director to move books under new policies

“The Book of Pronouns,” “Being You: First Conversations About Gender,” “Yes! no! “First Conversations About Consent,” “Bye Bye His Binary,” and “Red: A Crayon Story” – all of these books will be reviewed and appropriately shelved by the former Autauga’s Platteville Public Library Board. It turns out that. This decision was supposed to be ironclad. for 5 years.

All of these books were created by APPL Board Chair Ray Boles and Vice Chair Rachel Daniels (two of the three members of the Bylaws and Policy Committee), and along with the request for the move, Library Director Andrew Boles. It is also included in the new 113-book list I gave Foster. Add books to the adult section and flag them as adult content.

In fact, all books that have been formally challenged at the library are on the list, with the exception of “Red Hood” and author Sarah J. Maas' books, which have already been removed from the young adult section. Masu.

Boles and Daniels argue that the books should be moved based on sweeping changes the board made to policy at its Feb. 8 meeting, most notably that “libraries should The selection criteria has been changed to “must not purchase or obtain any materials that are advertised to consumers.'' That content includes, but is not limited to, obscenity, sexual conduct, prostitution, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender nonconformity. ”

APR obtained the list of books under Alabama's open records law, as well as written communications between Foster, library board members and library board attorney Laura Clark regarding the process.

In one such email, Foster told Boles that the list apparently includes books that do not violate the new policy, and is primarily aimed at LGBTQ+ books. I explained.

“Understand the guidelines for use/intended use, with an explanation from the board of how this list was created and how/why the books included on the list were selected. I would appreciate it if you could,” Foster wrote in an email.

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APR contacted Mr. Boles for clarification and how the list was created, but Mr. Boles declined to answer questions.

“So let me tell you, I'm not going to say anything about this because I think it's fake news in your newspaper,” Boles said before hanging up.

Most books on the list have LGBTQ content or relevance

According to Foster's review, 95 of the 113 titles on the list, or 84 percent, contained LGBTQ content, but “some of the LGBTQ connections are tenuous at best.”

“Of those, 58 (51%) appear to be exclusively LGBTQ content,” Foster said in an email.

One such book is Over the Rainbow by Rachel Davis. This is a book for young people about “science, magic, and the meaning of rainbows.” The book includes a two-page spread about how rainbows have historically been used to represent LGBTQ+ rights. This book also explains the Biblical meaning of the rainbow symbol in the story of Noah's Ark.

Another book that touches on gender roles is Every Day by David Levithan, but it has very limited sexual content. However, one of the characters, “A”, wakes up in the body of a different teenage boy every day and tries to maintain a relationship with the girl he has fallen in love with. “A” has no natural gender because he has never lived in a particular body for more than a day.

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Of the 48 titles, only 42% contain sexual content, Foster said.

“The line I tried to draw with this piece, whether explicit or not, went beyond the kiss in the book,” Foster wrote. “As we have previously stated, the definition of 'sexual activity' in policy is very broad and we need guidance on what qualifies as 'sexual activity.'

About half of the books flagged for sexual content also include LGBTQ content.

Emails reveal confusion over whether books should be moved or removed.

Boles and Foster appear to have met on March 4 to discuss Foster's concerns about the list, according to multiple emails discussing such meetings.

“Based on the conversation I had with my attorney yesterday, she said you are wrong about your interpretation of our new policy and there is no need to vote on moving the books,” Boles said on March 5. said in an email. “How long does it take to tag a book and put it in the adult section?”

Mr Foster responded: “I would like some clarification on how my interpretation of the new policy is wrong.'' “I stated at the meeting that the revised policy states that 'the Library Board of Trustees reserves discretion over all library materials, including but not limited to books.' .”, which seems to be relevant here. The change in selection criteria means that the library board is exercising its discretion over the list of books given to me to move to the adult section. But because it is a decision of the library board as a whole, the board must make those decisions in a public meeting pursuant to the Open Meetings Act. ”

Mr. Boles asked Mr. Clark to answer Mr. Foster's questions, and Mr. Clark told Mr. Foster in an email that the books “may be removed without a board meeting subject to open records laws.” Ta.

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“Book deletion can be initiated in the following ways,” Clark said. “1. At the request of a patron who has gone through a material review process. 2. Through a normal weeding process. If it is done at the request of a patron who has gone through a material review process, it is subject to the Open Meetings Act. This must be done through a meeting and decision of the relevant committee and board of directors. If this is done as part of a normal weeding operation, no meeting is required.

“In this case, you have been asked by the Chair to eliminate a book that violates policy. You have asked for examples. We have asked to be included.”

Weeding refers to removing materials from a collection, not rearranging them. Although weeding is the librarian's job, the policy states that “the library committee reserves discretion in the weeding of materials.” The policy states that books that “do not meet the selection criteria'' will be “selected.''

Mr. Clark's email mischaracterizes Boles' request, based on multiple emails, transcripts filmed by Mr. Darr, and an APR interview with Mr. Darr.

The first evidence that Mr. Boles requested that the books be moved rather than weeded was that Mr. Boles said that Mr. Clark's opinion “doesn't require a vote on moving the books,” and that “how long does it take to move the books?” ” has already been stated when asking. It's in the adult section. ”

The rough minutes of a Feb. 14 policy committee meeting in Foster's office also say Boles asked Foster to move the books rather than remove them.

The minutes say Boles asked, “What will be the schedule for moving the books?”

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“We have no intention of removing the books,” Durr stressed on Saturday April.

“There's a lot of talk about us banning books,” Darr said. “I don't think any of the board members want to remove books…We're not going to remove books like that. We want them available, but if someone We want to make sure it’s not a place you can access by accident.”

The subject of Mr. Clark's email to Mr. Foster was “RE: Open Meetings Act and Book Removal.”

Clark herself spoke out last year as a resident protesting the books, claiming she and other parents wanted the books to be “relocated, not removed.”

However, in an email, Clark noted the board's right to exercise discretion over the collection, saying, “The board is committed to the That's what I'm doing,” he said.

Lori Lane, who served as general counsel for the Alabama League of Municipalities for more than 22 years and retired in December, told APR that policies that give the board discretion “are nothing more than a majority vote of the board.”

“Unless the board delegates it in some way, it cannot be exercised by individuals,” Lane said.

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Although this policy sets out selection criteria as factors to consider when weeding material, this policy does not require weeding of material.

Jessica Hayes, advocacy coordinator for the Alabama Library Association, told APR that after reviewing public records, there appears to be confusion “as to whether this is a relocation project or a removal project.”

“These are very different jobs than professional librarians,” Hayes says. “Ray Boles is treating this as a relocation project. That's not how Laura Clark is treating it based on these emails. Ray uses the terms 'moving' and 'tagging' frequently. Therefore, this is considered a relocation project. If it's a relocation project, a prudent board will take a conservative approach and discuss it in a public meeting where a vote is taken. ”

Mr Foster also expressed concern about Mr Clark's opinion.

“Laura's statement is entirely about the library weeding process, which by definition is the complete removal of materials from the library, not the process of moving books between different sections of the library,” Foster said. said. “This statement makes sense if the material in question is scheduled to be removed.”

A simple reading of this policy does not specifically authorize board members to flag books for weeding, it simply states that books that do not meet the selection criteria are candidates for weeding. . Librarians had wide discretion over library collections and could remove books, and anyone could argue with librarians that a book violated policy. However, an individual board member's opinion that a book does not meet the selection criteria does not authorize that board member to begin weeding the book under policy.

Ultimately, if the library director does not agree with the selection criteria, the board must vote to exclude certain materials.

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Some of the books listed clearly do not violate policy

“Based on the research I did this week, there are eight books that require an explanation as to why they were included. These books may not even meet library policy unless they are considered with the broadest possible approach.” Apparently not,” Foster said. .

Foster said “Red: A Crayon Story” is one such book, a story about a blue crayon wrapped in red wrapper and expecting other crayons to be what they expected. He suffers from an identity crisis, but is freed when he realizes that Crayon is everything he expected. It was blue all the time. Author Michael Hall said he drew from his experience with dyslexia and dealing with other people's misconceptions that he was “lazy” or “not very smart.”

“Yes! No! The “initial conversation about consent” also does not fall under the library's new policy. Those who formally objected to the book in Platteville said it was “aimed at teaching children that they must consent to what is done to them, especially for sexual acts.” However, he later admitted that “the subject matter is not sexual.''

Both of the aforementioned books were challenged by members or affiliates of Clean Up Platteville, and both were reviewed by the APPL Board of Directors. Board member Sandra Harvey laughed when the recommendation to relocate “Red: A Crayon Story” came up.

“Who would be bothered by this?” asked Harvey. One of his assigned books, “Cut,'' is on the list without any clear policy violations.

“The book appears to be about self-harm, but that is not covered in the policy,” Foster told Boles in an email.

It appears that these books were included to move on, not because they opposed the new policy, but simply because they were challenged by Cleanup Platteville. APR was scheduled to ask Mr. Boles about the inclusion of these books, but as mentioned above, Mr. Boles declined to comment.

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Another book that seems to challenge LGBTQ content, “A Storm of Horses” by Ruth Sanderson, actually contains none.

“The best I can guess is that this was targeted because there are people who believe that Rosa Bonheur may have been a lesbian, but that's not mentioned in the book. No,” Foster said.

Other books that Foster believes don't fit the policy guidelines include “Darius the Great Wasn't Alright,” “Everything After,” and “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Adolescence…A Curious Girl.” Don't learn from TikTok.''

Another six books flagged for relocation or removal are not actually located in the young adult section, but instead are located in various adult sections.

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