Libraries all across the the country have become heated battlegrounds in a culture war over what materials should be available to the public.
In the last week alone:
- The Patmos Library in Jamestown Township in Michigan will lose 84% of its $245,000 annual budget after voters rejected the library’s levy due to residents’ opposition to LGBTQ+ materials on the library shelves.
- Voters in Craighead County, Arkansas cut their library’s budget completely in half after a controversy erupted during the summer regarding an LGBTQ+ display.
- The Elmbrook School District in Wisconsin removed 7 books from the school library as part of a wider campaign across the state to to ban LGBTQ+ books.
In the face of mounting pressure to censor or remove LGBTQ+ content, one Ohio library in a conservative county has stood up to say that LGBTQ+ books will remain on display.
The Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County — on the banks of the Ohio River on the eastern border of the state — said in a statement that members of the local community have been addressing their Board of Trustees since June to “passionately voice their concerns and call for action for the library to remove, relocate, or maintain as it is, library materials and displays with LGBTQ content.”
In the Facebook post, the library reminded users that “a public library provides an impartial environment with information in various formats and different viewpoints allowing an individual to choose for themselves what they want to read so that they may learn about the world around them and what is reflected in their own personal lives.”
They further said book displays will continue to “highlight local, state, and national celebrations and observations along with new library materials, services, and programs.”
Regarding children’s books with LGBTQ+ themes, the library said they “will not relocate children’s books from the children’s room to the adult section” given that children’s books are written at age-appropriate levels. They reminded parents that it is their decision “to monitor what their children read and not for another person to choose for them.”
The library did say that they are reevaluating their graphic novels collection and that any books with “mature content” will be moved to the adult area.
- Find and then visit your local library. And thank a librarian while you’re there.
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