Unofficial library meeting held to discuss sensitive content

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:12 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 16, 2021 at 10:14 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - An unofficial library board meeting was held by board member Amanda Escue, who proposed an approval process regarding sensitive topics in the children’s and teen’s sections.

A similar move failed in a 2-3 vote at last week’s meeting.

Dozens showed up to the special-called meeting at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church and they gave a mixed response to the proposal.

One parent said the board should control sensitive content, and another says this encourages censorship.

“What we’re trying to do here is sort of making progress on this issue in a way that respects all taxpayers. Find the right wording, the right language for that,” Escue said.

Since it wasn’t a full-board meeting, the proposal didn’t advance.

However, there were questions about these types of meetings.

Escue defended her gathering by saying she followed protocol and had two other board members approve the special-called meeting and notified other members on Friday.

“Do children have the right to be taught sensitive material by their parents? And if so the library needs to be vigilant to not step in between that relationship between parents and children,” said Escue.

If this proposal were approved, the board would be given a three-month notice on which children’s books that contain any sexual, romantic, or gender theory content the library buys.

They would also recommend what books are purchased, where they’re placed, and be notified of guest speakers, authors, and performances regarding any sensitive content.

“So they’re really kind of cutting off that one community of having the right access to having the right access to the library, and that’s not what the library is for. It’s for the entire community,” said Karen Newberry.

Newberry visits the library frequently and believes this is censorship.

She agrees with the library’s director, David Eckert, who issued a statement that reads in part:

“Once the discussion moves to restrict access to any type of material, then it turns into a debate on censorship.”

David Eckert

“I mean, I could go in, and I could write up a form for reconsideration of lots of books that I don’t personally agree with, but I would never do that because I think they deserve to be there for the community to have access to,” said Newberry.

Mette McKinney disagrees, saying the content is not appropriate for children.

“I don’t think you can call this here censorship. I think this is promoting a certain agenda by certain individuals, and I don’t think it’s appropriate,” said McKinney.

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