December 20, 2021
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When the Llano County Library shuts down for three days this week, starting Tuesday, it won’t be for the holidays.
Instead, a group of six librarians in this small Central Texas county will be conducting a “thorough review” of every children’s book in the library, at the behest of the Llano County Commissioners Court. Their mission will be to make sure all of the reading material for younger readers includes subjects that are age-appropriate. A new “young adults plus” section will be added to separate books written for an older teen audience from those geared toward younger readers.
The three-day closure of the library system in Llano County, about 80 miles northwest of Austin, also means a temporary shutdown of its virtual portal through the online book provider Overdrive.
“I think we owe it to all parents, regardless if it’s a school library or a public library, to make sure that material is not inappropriate for children,” Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said.
The Llano County community’s push to scrutinize the local library’s book stacks comes two months after a Texas lawmaker first questioned the inclusion of more than 850 books about race, equality or sexuality in public school libraries.
And Llano County is not the only community in Texas asking harder questions.
The rise in public library book complaints
Local public libraries in Texas, including those in Victoria, Irving and Tyler, are fielding a flurry of book challenges from local residents. While book challenges are nothing new, there has been a growing number of complaints about books for libraries in recent months. And the fact that the numbers are rising after questions are being raised about school library content seems more than coincidental, according to the Texas Library Association.
“I think it definitely ramped it up,” said Wendy Woodland, the TLA’s director of advocacy and communication, of the late October investigation into school library reading materials launched by state Rep. Matt Krause in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating.
In response to Krause’s inquiry, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped the Texas Education Agency to investigate the availability of “pornographic books” in schools. …….