Library board tables ask to move, reclassify or delete 30 books
The Abilene Public Library Board filed action Monday on a list of disputed library materials received by the board, while a group of residents came forward again to complain about what they perceived to be documents of a sexual nature that minors could access.
The books in question were submitted through Sept. 30, board chair Clint Buck said, reading a statement prepared by the review committee made up of Buck and library board member Denise Moore. and Joe Specht.
From six people, the library received 30 “reconsideration” requests during the period, Buck said. Four requests duplicated those of another petitioner, bringing the total to 26 titles, Buck said.
The six petitioners “collectively read six” of the 26 books in their entirety, he said.
“As a result, the petitioners were, on the whole, unable to articulate a contextual understanding of the sentences and/or excerpts upon which they relied in their respective requests for reconsideration,” Buck said. “Members of the special review committee made an effort to consider each title in its entirety.”
The review board specifically focused on 14 physical books belonging to the Abilene Public Library.
Books challenged by readers are removed from the shelves of the library system, pending final action by the Abilene City Manager.
The committee held five meetings to meet with four individual petitioners, Buck said.
Petitioners’ demands for the titles ranged from removing a book entirely from the shelves of the library system, to reclassifying a book from young adult fiction to adult fiction, to creating a “section specially separated for specifically marked books,” Buck said.
Time to think?
At the request of Board Member Tim de la Vega, a motion was made and passed, but not unanimously, to wait for a decision until de la Vega and others could verify some of the volumes.
They remain on the shelf until a decision is made.
Buck said “the importance of submitting a request for reconsideration cannot be overstated.”
“Asking a public library dedicated to serving all of its residents to reconsider a book is a monumental request,” he said. “Essentially, a petitioner claims to know and/or believe that their rights and our beliefs outweigh the rights and beliefs of another citizen.”
Other reconsideration requests received on or after Oct. 1 and Dec. 1 will be addressed in a recommendation at the library’s next quarterly meeting, he said.
Proponents of removing or reclassifying books have launched a theme.
They targeted the need to monitor the innocence of children and the need to protect them from content that appeals to lustful interests or against what they see as prevailing community norms specifically informed by the Christian faith.
Eric Bengs read an excerpt from “The Bluest Eyes” by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, a novel that contains explicit scenes but – according to Buck, later in the meeting – is already placed in the fiction section for library adults.
The novel’s protagonist is a young black girl growing up in the years following the Great Depression. The book deals with topics such as racism, incest and pedophilia.
This is a book that has been targeted in other states.
Bengs and others have also spoken out against a graphic novel version of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” by Margaret Atwood. The new version of the story tells the story of a dystopian version of the future Republic of Gilead, which overthrew the government of the United States.
The servants are women who are forcibly assigned to produce children for the ruling class of the new government. Among the novel’s themes are women’s reproductive rights and the loss of agency and individuality.
Bengs and others who have spoken about the graphic version of the 1985 novel chose to emphasize specific scenes of violence and nudity.
Carolyn Walden, who said she lived in Abilene for 50 years, echoed others when she said she was ‘here to speak out on behalf of innocent children who may fall into a moral trap’ while browsing the library.
“I deeply value the free flow and exchange of ideas in a free society,” Walden said. “However, the issue of pornography is not a matter of mutual ideas. It is a moral issue and a perversion of what nature and nature’s God tell us about human sexuality.”
Such standards are written by God, not just in stone by individual human consciences, she said, arguing that the limits are put in place not to “restrict our freedom, but rather to protect us”.
“I am here to defend the innocent from moral hazard,” she said, adding “if the gay/trans community wants to educate others about their sexual practices, they are free to set up their own halls and bookstores in this society. free”.
Other speakers shared personal stories of dealing with child sexual abuse at a young age and the effect it had on them, while others expressed concern about books containing profanity, l alcohol and drug abuse and open sexuality which they believe could be accessible to minors.
Not a single voice
Cheryl Sawyers has declared that the United States is a free country, “given to us by the Constitution of the United States”.
“The First Amendment allows us to have freedom of religion and freedom of speech,” Sawyers said. “And because we collect taxes the way we do, that means any type of person in Abilene, whether they have the same religion or the same thoughts or the same morals or whatever, can have access to the books that ‘she likes.”
Sawyers said she disagrees with just one group of parents and others who have taken up the case against certain books, noting that they don’t speak for all Abilene residents.
“There are clearly not 124,000 people in this room,” she said. “The fact that a group of people stand up and then preach a specific part of the religion doesn’t speak for the whole city of Abilene.”
The library supports the right of individuals to access information, regardless of whether it may be considered controversial, unorthodox or unacceptable to others, Buck said.
What the committee determined:
∎ Reclassify some young adult books as adult books, including a five-book series “A Court of Thorns and Roses”, by Sarah J. Maas, and the “Damsel” books by Elana K. Arnold and “Flamer” by Mike Curato.
∎ Several books for young people and young adults have been appropriately stored in the APL collection, including “The Moon Within” by Aida Salazar, “Foul is Fair” by Hannah Capin, “Sold” by Patricia McCormick, a book on sex trafficking mentioned by some speakers, and “Yolk” by Mary HK Choi.
∎ Other books in question are only available in electronic format. The library system is developing a limited-access juvenile card that would prevent, among other things, the borrowing of these titles by minors. These queries include: “My Body is Growing: A guide for 4-to-8 year olds”, by Dagmar Geisler, “Bumped” by Megan McCafferty, “Burned” and Crank” by Ellen Hopkins”, “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “What Girls Are Made Of” by Elana K. Arnold.
∎ Books already classified as mature, and therefore requiring no further action, were: “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “This Book is Gay” by Juno Dawson, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut, “Queer: A Graphic History” by Meg-John Barker and illustrator Jules Scheele, “Red Hood” by Elana K. Arnold, “Red, White, and Royal Blue” by Casey McQuiston and “You Too?” by Janet Gurtler.
∎ Moved the graphic version of “The Handmaid’s Tale” from the Mockingbird Lane branch to the main downtown branch.
∎ Two books requested to be removed do not belong to or are not offered by the library: “Two Boys Kissing”, by David Levithan, and “Lolita”, by Valdimir Nabokov.