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Texas town shaken by book ban considers closing library

The American Library Association recently reported that there were 1,269 attempts to ban books in U.S. libraries and schools last year, nearly double the number in 20 years.

According to the report, LGBTQ-themed books are the most likely targets.

The question of what books are in libraries and schools has become a flashpoint in communities across the country, with conservative lawmakers and groups saying they are turning to book bans to protect children from pornography. . Civil liberties groups, authors and librarians say the attempt to ban the book is censorship.

In the Midwestern state of Missouri, books have been removed from shelves due to a new law banning sexually explicit material from schools. In Florida, legislators recently passed his three new laws on reading material control.

In the northwestern state of Idaho, Republican lawmakers introduced legislation to remove the exemptions that public libraries currently have to existing laws prohibiting the distribution of materials harmful to minors.

A town in Texas is considering going one step further and closing public libraries.

“Books don’t hurt anyone”

Llano is a rural town 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the state capital, Austin. There, authorities are considering closing the library system after a federal judge overturned a local lawmaker’s decision to remove the books.

According to J.R. Decker, who said his family has lived in Llano County for generations, “Books never hurt anyone.” says it’s just a book.They need to worry about gun violence and school safety.”

Decker was among those protesting at a recent conference on the issue of library closures. Among those who spoke was Suzette Baker, the former Librarian of Lano County. She says she was fired for disobedience after refusing to bring up her book.

“I want to know how ‘History of the KKK’ is porn. ‘How to be anti-racist’, why is it porn? It’s not,” she said at the hearing. “This is about disenfranchisement. This is not a communist state. This is not a Nazi state. We cannot choose what we read. It is ours.”

Book ban advocate Rhonda Schneider spoke in favor of banning certain books.

“Libraries are an important part of our community, but they said, ‘It’s a safe place for kids,'” Schneider said. , the books currently on the shelves of the Llano Library.” Schneider read out a printed list of books in which the two graphically talked about sexuality.

Emmett McPherson, a Llano resident, was not asked to comment, but believes the library is unsafe for children.

“The only reason I’m closing the library is because we’re not moving these books, which are clearly pornographic, to the adult section,” McPherson said. “We are willing to close the entire library to keep it out of the hands of children.”

Some people may find some of the books cited at the conference offensive, but they are not pornography, said Shirley Robinson, executive director of the Texas Library Association.

“First of all, pornography has a legal definition,” says Robinson. “And no school, public or academic library has material that meets the legal definition of pornography.”

Tackling the Texas Book Ban

The Texas legislature has about 40 bills related to libraries, including criminal charges against librarians, Robinson said.

Many book ban challenges in Texas began in 2021 after lawmakers contacted libraries and asked if they had any books among a list of about 850 titles, Robinson said. Many of the titles were LGBTQ-related or were written by or about people of color, she added.

“Librarians are leaving their professions because of the potential for criminal prosecution and possible harassment within the community,” said Robinson.

One librarian who quit was Lee Glover, an elementary school librarian in the Houston, Texas area. Her school began delegating book approval decisions to her parents rather than the librarian, due to increased book assignments.

“I already have a complete list of protocols that I have to follow before I put a book in the library,” she said. ”

The losers of the war against books are the students, she said.

“We are the lifeblood of many children,” Glover said. “We are the ones who put books in the hands of children who are not reflected anywhere else.”

For now, the Llano County library system remains open. At a recent meeting, county commissioners voted to “off the agenda” to close the library, appealing a federal order to put the books back into circulation.

https://www.voanews.com/a/texas-town-upset-by-book-ban-considers-closing-library-/7070708.html Texas town shaken by book ban considers closing library

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