Boundary County Library: Does This Policy Reflect And Serve Our Community?
After examining the new Boundary County Library (BCL) Material Selection & Collection Development Policy, I must ask: Does this Policy reflect and serve our community?
A few comments and suggestions:
Para. 6.3: Responsibility for Materials Selection
“The Boundary County Library Board of Trustees act as representatives of the community, setting policies and approving services for the institution. (Idaho Code Title 33, Chapter 26)….then develops procedures. Ultimate responsibility for the purpose, direction, and scope of the collection development rests with the Boundary County Library Board of Trustees through policy.
“Materials selection and access rests with the Boundary County Library Director, who operates within the framework of this policy….”
Comment: Are the Trustees and Director listening to the library’s user community?
Para. 6.4: Freedom to Read, View and Listen
We read in this section, “Materials that are written in a sensational or inflammatory manner or that do not meet other selection criteria, especially with regard to accuracy of factual content, will typically not be selected.”
Comment: This statement sounds benign at first, but awfully subjective. How do the library, and its Director in particular, define “sensational or inflammatory manner”? What about “accuracy of factual content”?
The American Library Association (ALA) recently produced bookmarks with a list of its recommended “fact checking” sites, one of which is the notoriously biased, slanted “Politifact”. One wonders if BCL will also use these and other “fact check” sites in its collection development work to avoid acquiring many Christian and/or conservative non-fiction books, much like Facebook using “fact check” sites to justify torpedoing posts by more right-leaning people and organizations it dislikes.
The trend among more and more libraries, especially those serving large populations, is to try to transform the culture, not to reflect it, and not to promote genuine intellectual freedom. You see this in their selection of materials, and especially in their programming decisions.
The American Library Association is an atrocious organization that will continue to get worse. BCL and the Board can identify with the ALA and seek guidance from it at their own risk.
Granted, Idaho Law, the Idaho Commission for Libraries, and the 1st Amendment protect Library content. This can change if our community is “proactive” in the legislative process.
Each of us in Boundary County must make it a priority to write our legislative representatives and demand a review of Idaho House Bill 666 (HB666).
In March 2022, the Idaho House of Representatives created a working group to study “harmful” materials in libraries, and affirmed its commitment to protecting minors from obscenities. The Resolution passed the Idaho House but was tabled by the Senate.
What it says in summary, as reported by the Idaho Statesman: The Idaho House said “harmful” materials contribute to juvenile crime, “impairing the ethical and moral development of our youth.” The resolution also says pornography is a “public health crisis” that harms “children, families, and societies at large.”
HB666 included language to punish librarians for allowing minors to check out “harmful materials.” Librarians would have been subject to fines of $1,000 and a year in jail, but the bill was never heard in the Senate, before the legislative session ended according to The Associated Press.
Why it matters: Other Idaho Representatives expressed concern that the resolution doesn’t go far enough to protect minors, and some claimed libraries are promoting pornography to children.
The above Bill should also prohibit schools from “having materials that describe or depict pornographic or indecent acts,” and include a ban on any sexual content in lesson plans and other school materials.
Public libraries nationwide have received a high number of requests that books be pulled or removed for sexual content and violence.
Idaho’s Senate must resurrect HB666 in next year’s session and commit to examining the impacts of demonstratively harmful library materials for the young.