Greenville library board plans ‘neutrality’ policy, drops book club names in the meantime | Greenville News

GREENVILLE — The Greenville County Library System board of trustees voted to temporarily rename all book clubs in its internal event guide to “book club,” dropping any themed branding such as “romance” or “LGBTQIA+.” “.

The temporary change — approved by a 9-2 vote on Oct. 24 — stands in the way while the board’s operations committee develops a new policy to handle the system’s non-codified stance of neutrality, as well as how and when library-sponsored events will be held. , which are controversial. Issues should be promoted. The policy may also examine what is considered controversial.

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During the new business portion of the agenda at the end of the October meeting, Board Chairman Alan Hill distributed copies of the September/October issue of the Library Events Guide to each of the board members. On page 3 of the brochure, he drew their attention to the “Rainbow Book Club” for people aged 18 and over at the Anderson Road branch.

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“Celebrate LGBTQIA+ literature with the Rainbow Book Club, a welcoming and inclusive community of bookworms,” ​​reads the club’s description. This is a library sponsored club, run by a county employee.

GCLS Board of Trustees

Greenville County Library System Board of Trustees at its October 24, 2022 meeting. Stephanie Mirra / Staff

The first meeting of the four-session book club was held on September 21 and the second on October 19. “Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers and “Cemetery Boys” by Eden Thomas are discussed. The book club will hold two more meetings on November 16 and December 14 where “The Town Sleeps” by Dennis E. Staples and “Kiss Her Once for Me” by Alison Cochrane will be discussed. Each book is currently in the library’s collection.

Hill said he received objections to the ad, which appears to be promoting the library’s “Rainbow Book Club” and its controversial LGBTQ+ content.

“It looks like the library was choosing to promote that label and the lifestyle and agenda that goes with it,” Hill said.

“As we said last time, what the library aims to be is a place that doesn’t push one agenda over another, especially on controversial issues,” Hill said.

Hill first said the use of county funds and materials for the book club “is a departure from previous policy that has existed for many years.”

That statement was challenged by board member Brian Offmuth, who asked what policy the brochure violated.

“The way the library has been run in the past has been that the library doesn’t take positions on controversial issues,” Hill responded. “We didn’t have a written policy regarding this kind of thing because that’s the way it’s traditionally taken care of.”

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Hill read a content policy that states, “The library will not promote or censor any particular religious, moral, philosophical or political belief or opinion.”

“We’re not trying to censor books. We’re not trying to ban books. We’re trying to have authority where we have neutrality, which we’ve known in the past.” Hill said.

After a brief discussion with several board members sharing their ideas and suggestions, Executive Director Beverly James instructed the board on how to edit the “Rainbow Book Club” advertisement for the upcoming November/December events guide. will go .

Board member Elizabeth Collins moved that all book clubs be titled “Book Clubs,” with the addition of a proposed age limit to discuss a list of specific titles. He added that the change will be temporary until the policy is recommended by the operations committee. The resolution was passed by two members in opposition.

The library will still host and sponsor the book club formerly known as the “Rainbow Book Club”.

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The Operations Committee was tasked with developing a draft policy to present to the full board. Library committee meetings are not normally held on a fixed day, so the best way to find out when the committee will meet is to monitor the library board website for postings, which are required at least 24 hours before the meeting. is the.

During the October 24 meeting, the board also approved a revised policy on how the public can come forward. One important change is that the public can only make public comments during full board meetings and not during committee or specially called meetings.

This board meeting comes in five months of discussions about the library system’s content, particularly those with LGBTQ content. The incident occurred in late June when someone in library leadership directed staff to remove Pride Month displays from 12 of its branches. The display was quickly restored after the pushback.

Follow Stephanie Mirah on Twitter @stephaniemirah


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