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 their internal event guidelines to “book club,” dropping thematic branding such as “romance” or “LGBTQIA+ “.

The temporary change — approved by a 9-2 vote on Oct. 24 — will remain in place while the board’s operations committee meets to formulate a new policy to govern the system’s uncodified net neutrality stance, along with how and if there are events supported by the library in which there is conflict. things should be encouraged. The policy could also examine what is considered controversial.

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At the end of the October meeting during the new agenda item, board chair Alan Hill distributed copies of the September/October issue of the library’s event guide to all board members. On page 3 of the booklet, he directed attention to the “Rainbow Book Club”, a 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. It’s a library-sponsored club, run by a county employee.

GCLS Board of Trustees

The Greenville County Library System Board of Trustees at their meeting on October 24, 2022. Stephanie Mirah / Staff

The four-session book club held its first meeting on September 21st and its second meeting on October 19th. “Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers and “Cemetery Boys” by Aidan Thomas were considered, respectively. The book club will hold two more meetings on November 16 and December 14 where “This Town Sleeps” by Dennis E. Staples and “Kiss Her Once for Me” by Alison Cochrun will be discussed, respectively. All books are currently in the library’s collection.

Hill said he received complaints about the ad, saying it appeared the library was promoting the “Rainbow Book Club” and the LGBTQ+ materials discussed.

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

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

Hill initially said the use of county funds and materials for the book club “departs from the previous policy that has been in place for many years.”

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

“The way the library has operated in the past is that the library does not take a position on controversial issues,” Hill responded. “We have not had to have a written policy regarding the this kind of thing because that’s the way it was taken care of.”

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Hill read a materials policy that said, “The library will not promote or question a particular religious, moral, philosophical or political conviction or opinion.”

“We are not trying to censor the books. We are not trying to ban the books. We are trying to get to the option where we have the independence that we had we’ve known in the past,” said Hill.

After a short discussion with several board members sharing their ideas and suggestions, Executive Director Beverly James asked the board to guide them on how to prepare the advertisement for the “Rainbow Book Club” for the November event guide. /December which will be printed soon. .

Board member Elizabeth Collins suggested that every book club should have a “book club” and a list of specific titles to discuss as well as the recommended age range. She said the change would be temporary until a policy is recommended by the operations committee. The motion was passed with two members against.

The library will continue to host and support the book club formerly known as “Rainbow Book Club”.

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The task of the operating committee was to develop a draft policy that would be presented to the full Board. Library committee meetings do not occur on regular days, so the best way to keep track of when the committee meets is to check the library board website for postings, which are required at least 24 hours before meeting.

During the meeting on October 24, the board also approved a revised policy on how the public can appear before it. One of the main changes is that the public can only make public comments at full board meetings and not at committee meetings or special meetings.

This board meeting comes five months after a discussion about library system materials, especially those with LGBTQ content. The exciting incident occurred in late June when someone in library leadership instructed staff to remove the Pride Month displays at its 12 branches. The displays were quickly reset after a push back.

Follow Stephanie Mirah on Twitter @stephaniemirah


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