DCC4D audits DCPL, library encourages parent involvement in material selection

August 17, 2023 | 12:10 am

Updated August 21, 2023 | 11:59 am

Photo by Josh Kelly

The Daviess County Citizens for Decency (DCC4D) group said it completed an audit of books in the teen and juvenile sections of the Daviess County Public Library and “uncovered a combined 248 titles that are inappropriate for developing minds.” The DCPL board told Owensboro Times it is reviewing the list, and we will follow that process. 

The group claimed in a release that the DCPL Board of Trustees and Executive Director Erin Waller have declined to rectify the situation. DCC4D claimed the 248 titles contain imagery or text depicting sexual activity and sexual orientation, profanity, and controversial racial commentary, among other topics they deemed inappropriate.

Asked if the group completed the audit themselves or if a third party did it, DCC4D Chairman Jerry Chapman said they had “a task force” working on it for approximately 2 months.

“They read and reviewed several of the books. We did an open records request for the library juvenile stacks and library teen stacks. We were able to compare titles to known offensive titles from several different lists. I’m sure we didn’t get them all but who would have thought there would be that many,” Chapman said.

DCPL board members said they could not verify if the books on the list were in the juvenile and teen sections because, as of Wednesday evening, they had not yet been able to review the list fully. 

DCPL board member Susan Montalvo-Gesser said they would be reviewing the list on a case-by-case basis in addition to their screening policy.

“We do have a process at the library on reviewing material, and we interpreted (DCC4D’s) presentation as wanting those 248 books to be in the process we usually use, [to be reviewed] on a case-by-case basis or a book-by-book basis, so we’re going to start that review tomorrow,” Gesser said.

OT asked DCPL administration for details on that process, but it was not provided by the time of publication.

DCPL Executive Director Erin Waller said the library has more than 60,000 pieces of material in its children’s section and more than 6,000 in its teen section. This includes all forms of media, such as books, movies, and music.

In their release, DCC4D requested that Waller be fired immediately, all titles on the list be removed from the library’s juvenile and teen sections, and policies be changed to follow the group’s outlined “library expectations.”

(Editor’s note: The original version of this story said DCC4D requested the titles be removed from the library’s catalog. The story has been updated to reflect the DDC4D press release that requested the titles be removed from the juvenile and teen sections.)

The primary policy change requested by DCC4D is centered around the checkout process for minors. The group acknowledged that the library places the parent responsible for their child’s library card use.

The library’s policy currently states the following:

“Parents are responsible for supervising their child’s use of the library. Library staff members can make suggestions regarding reading and interest levels, but the ultimate responsibility lies with the parent. Cardholders of any age may check out all circulating books in the library collection. Parents are advised to supervise their child’s use of the library.”

Parents can currently sign their teen up for one of two cards. One option is an all-access card for ages 13-17. The second is a Teen Courtesy card with the same parameters but limits the number of items the teen can check out at once to three. Both cards prohibit checking out R-rated movies.

Similarly, the juvenile card has three options. The first is all-access for ages 3-12, and the second limits the number of items a juvenile can check out to three. At both levels, they can only check out movies from the juvenile section. The third option, a Juvenile Expanded Movie Card, allows the juvenile to check out PG and PG-13 movies with parental permission.

According to their “library expectations,” DCC4D is asking that any parent who has signed or will sign for an “all-access” card for their child must be made aware that “that access includes obscene and pornographic material.”

“It only makes sense that if you are precluding access to R-rated movies, you would also preclude access to literature or other media that are equally inappropriate,” DCC4D said in the outline.

Waller said they encourage families to be involved in checkout, but there is no requirement.

“We just encourage parents to participate in those selection processes with your children,” Waller said. “… All juveniles get juvenile cards, but basically, that has more to do with the way we keep up with any kind of fees that would occur on a card because an adult has to be attached to be the responsible financial party.”

OT is continuing to request more information and will follow the review process. 

August 17, 2023 | 12:10 am

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