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Library in Hamilton County books are taken off the shelf so they can be reviewed for sexual content



Hamilton County, Indiana – Both of the Hamilton East Public Library’s branches have many empty shelves due to the removal of many books for a content review.

The evaluation follows the adoption of a new policy by the library board that stated that books in the young adult, middle school, and high school sections should be “age appropriate.” Books that depict nudity, have explicit sexual content, or describe explicit sexual content are not permitted to be displayed in certain sections.

The modification will affect more than 18000 copies, according to the library.

Since the library’s “Teen Zone” collection already complies with the new policy, the review has a strong emphasis on those titles.

Staff members will also check books for violence and profanity. According to a library representative, the books will be taken off the shelf and unavailable until they can be evaluated.

“I think it’s a good idea for parents to know what students are reading, their children especially,” said patron Jennifer Britting.

The modifications have generated debate. Some people, like Britting, claim they want to be in charge of and aware of their children’s access.

“I believe in freedom of speech. I believe we should be able to say what we need to say,” Britting siad. “As a parent, because I have three children of my own, it would be a good idea for parents to have that conversation with their kids and know what they’re reading.”

Others with whom we spoke believe that their children’s access to certain things is being decided for them.

“We as parents get to make that choice and we should have to make that choice for our children not other people’s children,” said Shari Wilhite.

Supporting the policy, board member Micah Beckwith asserted that he thought it was the board’s responsibility to establish expectations. He disputed the notion that this rule constitutes a “ban,” stating that the books will still be available at the library, but not in the teen area.

The library stated that it anticipates moving about half of the books currently kept in the teen area to the general adult collection by the time the review is finished.

The library claimed that it would need to hire additional staff in order to finish the evaluation in a year. Some books, according to the organization, need to be read from cover to cover.

That would cost the library more than $300,000, according to estimates. The cost would be for staff to not only finish the review but also to continue maintaining compliance.

“I think the money could definitely be better spent elsewhere,” library patron Jacob Shillings said.

Shilling and other people we spoke to agreed that standards are okay as long as they are reasonable.

“If you don’t want it at your house then don’t let [your kids] check it out,” Shilling said. “If they’re going to come by it in passing, you can’t prevent kids from seeing anything out in the real world.”

The library stated that after reviews, books will be placed back on the shelf in the sections that comply with the new policy.

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