Waller in process of reviewing books listed in ‘audit,’ recommends no changes so far

August 21, 2023 | 4:51 pm

Updated October 16, 2023 | 2:14 pm

Daviess County Public Library Director Erin Waller has reviewed nearly 70 of the 248 titles deemed “inappropriate for developing minds” by the Daviess County Citizens for Decency (DCC4D) group. Waller said she recommends the ones she’s reviewed so far remain in their respective sections.

On Wednesday, the DCC4D group issued a release saying it completed an audit of books in the teen and juvenile sections at DCPL. Members of the group also spoke at the DCPL board meeting on Wednesday.

“Many of the books found are nothing short of pornographic,” the release reads. “… the DCPL Board of Trustees and the Executive Director, Erin Waller have declined to rectify the situation. DCC4D believes this is a furtherance of the nationwide attempt to sexualize the youth of our nation. Exposure of undeveloped minds to explicit materials and pornography creates a plethora of personal, developmental and relationship issues for children.”

In their release, the group demanded immediate actions be taken, including the board firing Waller and “all identified titles must be removed from children’s/teen sections.”

Waller said that as of just after noon on Monday, she had reviewed 69 of the 248 books identified. 

She said of those 63, five books are in the teen section and 58 are in the juvenile section. Waller said six of the books on the list were already shelved in the adult section.

“My recommendation is that we keep them where they are (in their respective sections),” Waller said.

Waller added that since the board meeting, DCC4D contacted her with corrections after they noticed some books on their list were not correctly identified.

Waller said to ensure the books are not checked out during the review process, all 248 titles have been listed as “In Repair” or “Being Reviewed” in the library’s system. According to Waller, some of the titles requested are lost, and about 50 were checked out when the review began.

Once the book has been reviewed, it will be returned to its shelf if still deemed appropriate, according to Waller.

“I’ve divided it up by section. As I get done with a section, everything that I think is appropriate to stay where it is will be going out there so that I don’t have all of these just sitting in my office for the whole time that I’m working on them,” Waller said.

Waller said her review process includes looking at laws about obscenity outlined in KRS Chapter 531 along with reviews and circulation numbers. She is also looking at the specific concerns outlined by DCC4D in the list the group provided to the library.

“I’m reading that to see what their concerns are so that I can better understand exactly what it is that I need to look for,” she said.

Waller will provide her recommendations to the Board of Directors, which has the ultimate decision on what to do with the books.

Waller said she alone is reviewing all of the books, but said that in the future there may be titles for which she seeks outside input from board members or other staff.

Waller also provided a general overview regarding the library’s material selection process and the relocation of books to different sections.

Owensboro Times: In reviewing the material selection process, can you clarify who grants books to the library’s circulation? Is it an in-house staff member or a trusted system the Library utilizes, and how long has it been this model?

Erin Waller: We have 6 staff members who do collection development. 3 of them are professional Librarians with Masters of Library Science degrees (that includes the staff who order children’s and teen)

Occasionally, for popular, best-selling material, we will use a standing order from Baker and Taylor (our main book distributor).

It has been this way for as long as I know. It’s the standard practice in public libraries.

OT: After a book is allowed into the library’s circulation, what warrants shelving a book in the juvenile or teen section versus the general section?

EW: We are provided that information from the publisher and the MARC records created by the Library of Congress.

OT: How often would you say books are added and removed from the library, maybe even an average shelf life of a book at DCPL?

EW: Material is added almost daily. I would say that an average shelf life is 3-4 years, depending on the popularity and condition of the material.

OT: If these books are found inappropriate by DCPL to be held in the juvenile or teen sections, is the next step automatic removal from the library, or will they be moved to the general section?

EW: I have never removed material from a library I have worked at because of a request for reconsideration by an outside group or individual. That goes against the 1st Amendment and the ethos of my profession. But we have, on a few occasions, moved a title to another section of the library.

August 21, 2023 | 4:51 pm

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