DCPL not relocating materials but making 2 changes following book review

October 19, 2023 | 12:12 am

Updated October 18, 2023 | 8:11 pm

Photo by Josh Kelly

The Daviess County Public Library said Wednesday they support Director Erin Waller’s decision to not relocate any materials following a review of nearly 250 titles. The library is taking two steps following the review: the creation of an optional limited access card for juveniles, as well as changing the name of the “teen” section to the “young adult” section, in line with industry terminology.

Like in the September board meeting, approximately 20 people spoke during the public comments portion of Wednesday’s meeting, including DCC4D representatives, library workers, community organization leaders, former teachers, and other citizens simply wanting to voice their support for DCPL’s actions.

Due to the number of speakers, public comment was moved to the start of the meeting. Following public comments, the board quickly addressed the book review. Susan Montalvo-Gesser, who was elected during the meeting to serve as the board’s chairperson, ran the meeting.

OT live-streamed the public comment portion of the meeting, and that video can be watched here.

“Our director has reviewed all of the material that was asked of her to be reviewed. We have decided we support the director in her decision not to move those materials. If you do in the future, have an issue with any book in the library, we already have a mechanism for that. It’s called a request for reconsideration. … That’s the decision that we’ve made, and we don’t plan on revisiting those decisions,” Montalvo-Gesser said.

Waller’s review began in August after the Daviess County Citizens for Decency (DCC4D) group said it completed an “audit” of books in the library’s teen and juvenile sections, with the group saying they “uncovered a combined 248 titles that are inappropriate for developing minds.”

In the days following, Waller said her review process included looking at laws about obscenity outlined in KRS Chapter 531 along with reviews and circulation numbers, and she was looking at the specific concerns outlined by DCC4D in the list the group provided to the library. Waller also provided OT with a general overview of the library’s material selection process and the relocation of books to different sections.

During the DCPL board’s September meeting, Waller provided a lengthy and detailed update on her review. While the review was not complete, she did recommend that DCPL add an optional library card level that would restrict juveniles from checking out any material not in the juvenile section. The board unanimously approved that measure during the September meeting.

Previously, parents could only sign their teen up for one of two cards. One option is an all-access card for ages 13-17. The second was 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.

Waller said the limited access card will allow the families the “ability to gatekeep” if there are materials they don’t want their children to read.

“It gives more options for parents to do that. So I feel like it’s a good compromise,” she said.

Waller said after the September meeting that it could take a couple of months to implement the new access level because they have to code each of the items in the young adult section — which includes upwards of 60,000 pieces of material. On Wednesday, she said it will be available by the end of the year. 

“We have some technology-type stuff that we need to do to be able to get that ready for people, but we’re getting very close,” Waller said.

DCC4D Chairman Jerry Chapman said during public comments that the group is still “very concerned about this limited access card.” 

“If a parent decides that they don’t want their children subjected to the pornography that’s in the teen section, then they will be relegated to checking books out of just the juvenile section,” Chapman said. “Erin tells me that there are books there that probably entertain them, but if they’ve got a research paper to do, whatever the case may be, they don’t have that stuff unless mom comes in and checks them out for them. That’s an undue burden. That’s not necessary. There’s a better way to do that.”

The second step DCPL is taking following the review is changing the name of the “teen section” to the “young adult section.” Waller said the board did not have to vote on the name change because it was not related to a policy change, though Montalvo-Gesser still said the board supports the decision.

County Commissioner Janie Marksberry, Fiscal Court’s liaison to the library, asked why the decision was made since individuals younger than 18 are not technically adults.

Waller responded, “It’s an industry term. A lot of those books are sold to us by the publisher, come with that terminology.”

Waller said after the meeting that she sent her recommendations — meaning the new access card and the renaming of the teen section — to DCC4D on Monday. She said that is typical practice when completing a review of materials. Waller declined to provide a copy of that letter to OT after the meeting.

October 19, 2023 | 12:12 am

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