The Livingston Parish Library Board of Control will maintain its current book challenge policies despite a letter from the parish president asking them to remove some materials from the children’s section.
The decision was made in a unanimously passed motion at Tuesday night’s board meeting to “express his gratitude to the parish president for sharing his perspective,” upholding his current policy of reinstatement. issue of books and prominently post this policy in each branch of the library and online.
“What the parish council and the parish president tell us is that we have to have a system in place, and we try to educate everyone that there is a policy in place,” Ivy said. Graham, library board member. Tuesday’s discussion on the subject. “If you find something you like or dislike, there’s a form to fill out so it can be reviewed and discussed.”
The motion stems from a resolution passed by the Livingston Parish Council last month in support of a letter from Parish President Layton Ricks asking to move books he deemed unsuitable from the young adult sections to the sections for adults from the parish libraries.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my grandchildren to take a book from a public library that contains questionable sexual content,” Ricks wrote in the letter. “Why can’t our children be children anymore?” When they become adults, they can go to adult bookstores if that is what they choose. But for now, they are vulnerable children.
The parish council voted unanimously in favor of the letter without allowing public participation, despite tensions erupting in hallway arguments from residents and Tory activists hoping to speak.
Neither Ricks nor the parish council defined the content they were referring to or named any specific books in the libraries. Ricks said he was unaware of the citizens’ request form for the library equipment review until the evening of the parish council meeting.
This form allows residents to file complaints against books they deem inappropriate, which are then forwarded to library staff for review and suggested action, if any.
Libraries received two such requests in its history – one for “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah Maas and another for “Let’s Talk About It” by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan – which were both moved from the young adult section to the adult section, said library system spokesman Jeremy Travis.
The debacle over restricting access to these books began at the library’s last board meeting in July, when member Erin Sandefur put an item on the agenda titled “book content “. Residents flocked to talk about the issue, most of which were against restricting LGBTQ+ literature for young people.
During this meeting, Sandefur distributed a list of eight books to which access should be considered for restriction, with content ranging from a preschool picture book on transgender identities to a guide to dating teens with a sexually explicit illustration.
Five of the eight books specifically addressed LGBTQ+ issues, and none of the eight received requests for review.
“I think it’s important that we don’t start the censorship process. It may not be called censure by the board member, but it is and that’s the first step,” Lori Callais, a retired teacher, told The Advocate after Tuesday’s meeting. “I think the policies and procedures we have at the library are sufficient.”
Before the motion was passed, Sandefur made a separate motion at Tuesday’s meeting to create a three-member committee of the board to review the policies in place for collecting and reviewing books in the sections for children and young adults. This motion failed with 4 voting no and 2 voting yes. Those 2 yes votes came from Sandefur and Stephen Link.
Sandefur said after the meeting that she planned to file her own requests for reconsideration and that at least 20 library books were unsuitable for their current library sections.
“I stood up for the children in Livingston Parish,” Sandefur said. “The council voted, and that’s why we have the council. It’s the collective advice (of the library), but I tried.”