Blogger Intellectual Freedom Committee

Libraries Can and Do Survive Book Challenges: One Year Later

It has been almost one year to the day since my library had a book challenge after a special story time. The theme was Princess and Knight Story Time. Three books were read, one of which was, “Prince and Knight” by Daniel Haack. A prince falls in love with the knight who helps him defeat a dragon to keep his kingdom safe. The story time went off without a hitch, but soon afterward, the library began receiving phone calls about how this book was inappropriate for children. The challenge had been put forth to the library board.

Read more: Libraries Can and Do Survive Book Challenges: One Year Later

Over 100 people attended the board meeting in regard to the book challenge. Nearly 30 people got up to speak to the board, and an overwhelming majority were in support of the book being read during the story time. Support flooded the library, which allowed us to breathe a little easier knowing that most of our patrons understand our jobs of being inclusive to everyone in our community. It took nearly six months for the true comfort level of going to the library to return for several of the staff. Procedures were put in place so we could all be on the same page moving forward.

Those procedures are still used a year later. We have an advocacy phone line and email so patrons with questions can contact them without causing anxiety for staff. Most of the calls and emails occurred through May of 2023, and there have been very few since then. The youth services staff also uses a spreadsheet to keep track of the books we read in story times throughout the year. A patron can call up to 24 hours in advance to see what books are being read for a particular story time. The spreadsheet also helps youth services staff see the diversity of the books read throughout the year, and see the diverse areas where they need to improve.

Here are some positives from the book challenge to take with you. All of our story times have had increased attendance. Toddler Time averages 40-50 each week, Babies and Books averages 35-45, and the branch library’s story time averages 15-20. The majority of the patrons in the community continue to give us support in the work we do to prepare kids with literacy and the world. My library survived the book challenge and came out stronger than ever. So, if you are currently going through book challenges, know that you are doing a great job. You are supported. You are awesome!

Today’s blog post was written by Ashley Martin, Galena Digital Branch Leader for the Floyd County Library in Indiana, on behalf of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee. 

This post addresses the core competency of III. Programming skills and IV. Knowledge, Curation, and Management of Materials.

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