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Library board ready to approve new materials selection policy

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Marshall Public Library Materials Selection Policy Committee plans to make the final tweaks on its draft policy and approve it at the meeting on Thursday, Jan. 25, at 5 p.m.

Issues that have been discussed at past meetings are book labeling, selection criteria and the reconsideration of library materials policy. Materials are reconsidered if a patron has an objection to its content.

The committee is meeting in response to objections raised over two graphic novels, "Blankets" by Craig Thompson and "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel, which the library board pulled from the shelves last fall.

Chris Blakely, a library patron from the community, requested during a library board public hearing Oct. 4, 2006, to have some sort of labeling for the graphic novels.

At the committee's last meeting on Thursday, Jan. 11, the committee decided not to assign a prejudicial label or segregate them by a prejudicial system.

The board also discussed the selection criteria. When materials are selected, there will be input from the director of the library and at least one other staff member who is knowleadgble in the area.

Materials will be chosen by reviews, public demand, budget factors, recognition on a best-sellers list, and many other aspects of available information.

The hot topic of deliberation is the process for reconsidering library materials. At the last meeting, the committee was very much in favor of a new policy that did not jump directly into a public hearing.

The committee read through several policies of other libraries before homing in on the one they plan to propose in the second draft.

The agreement apparently reached by the committee allows a patron to fill out and submit a request for reconsideration of materials. The next step is for the director to review the criteria for why it was chosen and should or should not remain in the library. The director may ask staff or outside resources, such as another library, for additional information on the material or materials in question. When a request is filed, the director will inform the board president immediately and the president will inform the rest of the board.

While the items are being reviewed, the books will be placed on the reserve list for in-library use only and remain there until a decision has been reached, according to a draft copy of the proposed policy.

The library director will respond to the patron who requested the reconsideration -- with a written decision -- and then informs the board of that decision.

If the library patron does not like the director's decision, that person can request to be placed on the board agenda to speak on his or her behalf. According to the proposal, the board will listen to the speaker or speakers, review the background information and then make a decision.

Contact Rachel Harper at

marshallcity@socket.net



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