Lamar CISD develops new procedures for selecting library books

New Lamar CISD procedures for selecting library books were presented to the board of trustees during its Tuesday, March 22, meeting after certain books were pulled from libraries last fall to review for inappropriate content.

Community members voiced concerns in November 2021 about books they said contained vulgarity and explicit sexual language. Since then, a committee of 45 district stakeholders met four times in January and February to craft a formal process for choosing what hits library shelves.

Director of Technology Development Chad M. Jones said the committee studied resources such as legal and school board policies, what other districts were doing, and information from the Texas Association of School Boards and organizations like the American Library Association.

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“From the variety of resources we reviewed, we were able to create a library book selection procedure that is unique to Lamar CISD that emphasizes professional reviews, age-appropriateness, educational value and the professional judgment of our librarians,” Jones said.

He said librarians study their current collection and the needs at their campus before they begin to search for new titles. Some areas of focus include what genres are most popular, thoughts from student and staff, and gauging curricular needs. The librarian will use that information to come up with a list of potential books or collaborate with a “trusted vendor” for a list.

Jones explained that most books that are purchased come from three categories: those with two reviews from professional journals, those from trustworthy authors and / or publishers, and those that would fulfill curricular or diversity needs. If a book meets one of those specifications and is age-appropriate, it will go into the “OK to purchase” category, Jones said.

Lamar CISD has created new procedures for selecting library books.

Courtesy of Lamar CISD

When a librarian believes a book that does not fall into the three categories could be beneficial, a subcommittee of five librarians will evaluate it. Four of them must approve a book for it to move forward. A campus review committee that includes one teacher, one campus administrator, two parents and the campus librarian then takes a look. A book approved by this committee is deemed OK to purchase.

Jones said moving forward, the district will work to educate librarians and campus administrators about the procedures, plan a system to audit books already on the shelves and create training materials for committees.

Beginning in the 2022-23 school year, parents will be able to create a list of books for which they want to receive an email notification when their child checks one out, Jones said.

Board member Jon Welch asked Jones about how books of the graphic content that were read before the board in November made it into LCISD libraries. Jones said he was not entirely sure but said a book with professional reviews, for example, could move ahead for purchase without further scrutiny.

Referring to books that were read in the LCISD and Katy ISD boardrooms in the fall, Welch said, “Some of those authors were ‘award-winning,’ and some of those authors were reputable, according to certain publications. I really do not think that’s a good criteria. ”

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