OUTCOME: Thursday, May 18, 2023 the Boundary County Library Board voted whether or not three explicit books in the Young Adult (YA) section of the library should stay, be removed or move to the Adult Section. All Board members were present or on the phone, except Zone 1 Ken Blockhan. The books in question were Perfect, Crank and Impulse (all by Ellen Hopkins). The person who requested the reconsideration believes these books do not just talk about rape, drugs, alcohol, suicide, etc., the books glorify these issues.
All Board members agreed these books were not fun to read and harsh. Oddly, they think that these books could be a self-help for someone feeling depressed, suicidal, drug users, rapist, being raped, etc.. The Board admitted these three books have not been checked out in years. They stated they believe it was because the drugs mentioned in the books are not being used today (meth, cannabis, prescription drugs like Percocet, etc.). The Board concluded that the library should have names of current used drugs mentioned in these books like Fentanyl. So, the final vote and decision was to keep the books in the young adult section and work towards replacing them with books that mention current drugs being used today.
The Boundary County library asserts the young adult section is recommended for 14-18 years old, but the American Library Association trains their members that the young adult section is for 12-18 years old. Librarians will also direct younger children who read above their age level to this section (per two interviewed retired librarians). Legally any person under the age of 18 is a child/minor.
Print media does not have a rating system such as is used to rate Movies, TV shows, and Music. Parents face a difficult time understanding the content of the books that are currently in the Young Adults section at the library because of this. The core issue with the content of these books is that many of the subjects that are broached within the books are very adult in nature. Young adults and children are very impressionable, and by subjecting young adults and children to very adult subject matter, it may change a young adult or child’s perception of the subject matter without the guidance of life experience. The core issue with subjecting a young adult or child to these adult subjects without parental guidance is that the young adult or child is forming a lasting impression on issues that adults even struggle with.
Parents have a right to give context and guidance to their minors when it comes to adult situations so that a parent may feel like they have control on how their child is set up for success when they too become adults. Some parents feel the control is taken away from the parent initially when the child is searching through the stack and finds an inappropriate book with no warning of the inside content.
Traditionally, products were shelved appropriately or not available at a public facility. Over the last few years, a push to integrate these books has occurred.
When the library allows minors to be subjected to adult content without the parent’s consent or warning, they are taking away the parent’s ability to add context and guidance on how to interpret the material. By taking away the ability for context and guidance, the library is now acting as a parent. Because the library is funded with taxpayer money, it is a function of the state. Citing this, the state is now trying to parent the young adults or child. Do we want the state to be parents to our young adults or children, or do we think it’s the parent’s right to parent the young adults and children?
This is not a First amendment issue as most of the current library board believes. The American Library Association and national media have pushed this narrative to create division for political reasons. The Boundary County Library’s lawyer along with the citizen’s lawyer both agreed in November 2022 that it was not a First Amendment issue. The lawyers concluded it was a community standards issue.
Even though the books in question have content that is adult in nature, it doesn’t mean that the content must be removed from the library, or banned, it just means that the books that have adult subject matter should be kept in an area that requires a parent’s direct consent to view (Adult Section).
A section recommended to minors should be a place where a minor can freely explore, and a parent can feel comfortable to give the child independence. This should be the case because the library encourages families to read books at the library and does not require the book to be checked out prior to reading. Hence the chairs and couch. By having books with adult subject matter in a young adult section, the library is removing the ability for the parent to give guidance and thus removing their ability to parent how they see fit.
I would also like to point out that the Boundary County Library has filters on their computers to protect minors. Also, I pointed out at the reconsideration meeting that the Boundary County School District had these same three books in their High School’s library. The Superintendent removed them when notified.
In closing, the question at hand is, do we want the state to be parenting our young adults and children, or do we as parents want to reserve the right to parent our young adults and children as we see fit? Are we shunning a minority group of parents who do not feel comfortable bringing their children to the library anymore, just because the library won’t have compassion to move these books to the adult section?
The 3 books are:
Reconsideration Hearing’s recording:
A 4th book was asked to be reconsidered. The Board has not set a hearing date yet. Video of book (Warning!):