Idaho School Board Will Keep Books Banned From Libraries In Storage – For Now | Local


The nearly two dozen books that the Nampa School Board voted last month to remove from its libraries will continue to be stored until the board comes up with a more formal process for disputed books.

The council voted Thursday to keep banned books in the district warehouse and review them once a process is in place.

Trustee Brook Taylor, who introduced the motion, also said board members would receive copies of books to read upon request.

A handful of people at the meeting testified in public comments, most of them against the decision to ban the books. Opponents demanded that the council not dispose of the books and called on the council to reconsider or rescind its decision to remove the books from the shelves.

Teachers, parents and community members also spoke about the importance of providing library books that reflect the experiences of all students in the district, including LGBTQ students and students of color.

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They encouraged board members to read the books they voted to delete.

Trustee Tracey Pearson said she felt the council had to make the decision to remove the books for safety reasons, but said she would like to read them and be able to go through a more formal process.

“Right now we want to work on a new process and a new procedure because I felt like the previous one was failing,” she said.

Earlier this month, the board discussed implementing clearer policies and procedures regarding disputed library books. The board made its decision to remove the titles before the district could complete the review of each of the books.

Board chairman Jeff Kirkman said he would like to see a policy in place before the start of the school year.

Dozens of people gather outside to read banned books

As the school board debated what to do with the disputed titles, dozens of students, parents, teachers and community members gathered outside the district building for a reading of banned books.

People would bring chairs and blankets, sit in the grass, and read — many choosing one of the titles the school board had removed from their libraries.

Some attendees brought their own copies of books to read, while Rediscovered Books also distributed books during the event. The bookstore has distributed more than 1,000 copies of the disputed books, said Laura DeLaney, co-owner of Rediscover Books.

People read books such as “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “Looking for Alaska” by John Green, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison, and “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood.

Lance McGrath, a librarian and associate professor at the College of Idaho who started the Nampa Banned Books Fan Club, said the idea stemmed from other protest movements in the past, such as sit-ins during the civil rights movement. . McGrath said it made sense to have a reading to respond to “an attempt to censor reading material”.

McGrath also collected signatures on a petition asking the district to reverse the decision and return the disputed books to school libraries. More than 200 people had signed the petition by Thursday night, he said.

“Students aren’t leaving their First Amendment rights at the school gate,” he told the Statesman. “The school board must be very careful when making decisions that negatively impact students’ First Amendment rights.”

Several students attended the event and raised concerns about the school board’s decision. Scarlet Neubauer, a freshman who attends a charter school in Nampa, was reading “Looking for Alaska” during the reading. She said she attended the event because she did not support censorship, whether for books or music. She said banning the books could hurt schools.

DeLaney helped event attendees choose a book they wanted to read. As students, parents and community members approached the table filled with copies of the disputed titles, she explained what the books were about and tried to find a good fit for each person.

She said students should have varieties of titles and be able to see themselves in the books. She said the books that have been banned from schools are “incredibly powerful” and can “be a light in the dark” for children.

“These books matter,” she told the Statesman. “There are books here that are really life saving because they are able to see themselves in these books and know they are okay and they are seen and their voices are heard.”

Colin L. Johnson