Library policy has first reading

Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Marshall Public Library Board met Wednesday, Feb. 7 to have the first reading of the materials selection policy.

There were two Marshall residents, Chuck Hird and Roger Blakely, who requested to be on the agenda to speak about the policy.

Hird gave his views on the proposed materials selection policy and about keeping the two books in question -- "Blankets" by Craig Thompson and "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel -- on the shelves.

Hird was wearing a button that said, "I read banned books." He brought up the fact that several books that are vital to education have been challenged. They include "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Catcher in the Rye," by J.D. Salinger, "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker, "1984" by George Orwell and others.

"There is nothing wrong in challenging books," Hird said. He said he read the two books that have been pulled from the library's shelves.

Hird said that out of over 800 pages he read, there were four or five pages that were questionable. "To leave out some of their life would not make them an autobiography. I am glad I got to read them."

"We can't leave these types of materials out of the library," Hird said. "I think these books are important reads."

Roger Blakely started by thanking the policy committee for devoting so much time to preparing a materials selection policy. He said he only perceived two flaws with the proposed policy.

He said one paragraph states, "The library is not a judicial body." He said that is in conflict with the last paragraph of the policy where "the board will determine whether the request for consideration has been handled in accordance with stated policies and procedures of the Marshall Public Library." He said the first paragraph should state, "The library board is not a judicial body."

The library board considered Blakely's request but did not adopt it.

The board members explained the library as a whole is not a judicial body, which includes the board.

Blakely also applied the proposed policy to the banned books. According to Blakely, "Blankets" and "Fun Home" only meet one of the general criteria for selection -- the timeliness of the subject matter.

The books go along with the timeliness of the gay/lesbian movement and you would find these types of trash along I-70, Blakely said.

The board discussed this issue as well. The books must reach at least one aspect of the general criteria for selection. The factors are: constraints of budget; contemporary/social significance; critical acclaim; format and durability of material suitable for library use; local interest; patron requests; popular demand; reputation and significance of author, illustrator, editor, artist, performer, etc.; reputation/authority of author; scarcity of material on the subject and availability elsewhere; and/or timeliness and/or permanence or subject matter.

"The policy is not written for these two books," said Library Board President Anita Wright. "It is for our library to live by."

"Let's give it a shot and not drag it out anymore," said board member Katie Sharon.

The board unanimously decided to leave the policy language intact and move the policy into its second reading at the next library board meeting on Wednesday, March 14, where a vote will be taken. Anyone wanting to speak at the meeting must request to be put on the agenda. The speaker will be allowed only five minutes.

Other library board business included discussion of a grant and the addition of two new bilingual employees to the library..

Library Director Amy Crump told the board she is applying for a grant for a new computer server.

The new software the library has available is scheduled to be first installed on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

The library has hired two new employees. The bilingual workers will help make the library more efficient for Spanish-speaking patrons.

There will be a set time that the workers are there but it hasn't yet been established.

The next board meeting will be Wednesday, March 14 at 7 p.m. in the Marshall Public Library conference room.

Contact Rachel Harper at

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