Children’s books with LGBTQ content at the Crook County Library are under fire and some county residents want them removed.
“We started seeing more community members come to our board meetings raising our concerns about book that they had found; books that are on a ‘list’ that is circulating through some organizations of ‘these are the books you need to look for and see if they’re at your library,’” said Library Director April Witteveen.
According to Witteveen, backlash against LGBTQ books started in September and has only increased since, citing nearly 100 people at the last public library board of trustees meeting in November.
The director was tasked by the board with writing a proposal that would give the books in question a section separate from other books.
“That’s not in line with public library ethics at all,” said Witteveen. “It’s very clearly stated in American Library Association documentation that to approach any item from a perspective of ‘warning’ or applying a personal value to an item and then saying, ‘I don’t like this so you can’t have it.’ That’s completely anathema to public libraries.”
One woman Central Oregon Daily News spoke with said she can see both sides.
“Throwing the books on the shelves is going to tick off a lot of parents, but not having them available is not fair to the parents that want the public to be served properly in the ways they feel the public is growing and expanding,” said Jessica Ely, a library visitor.
Another woman told us she does not think LGBTQ books have any place in the children’s section and that she was tired of gay people “flaunting their sin.” When asked if she could say those things on camera, she said she was not comfortable doing so in case someone from her community recognized her.
Ely said, while she does not want her children exposed to LGBTQ topics, she understands banning the books or making them less accessible would be discrimination.
“It’s an important discussion and there’s a lot of people who do want their needs met that are a very important piece of our community,” said Ely.
There will be a library board of trustees meeting on Thursday where Witteveen will present two proposals: one that will require the library to make an “LGBTQ shelf” in the children’s section and another that would leave everything as it is.
She has said she is completely against the first proposal and only wrote it because it was required of her.
If everything is left as it is without segregating the LGBTQ books, the library will monitor their visitor numbers and assess what, if any, impact to patronage there is.