A mother recently cited a concern to the Centralia Public Library, 210 South Jefferson in Centralia, regarding a recent display of books dealing with gender-identity in the children’s …
A mother recently cited a concern to the Centralia Public Library, 210 South Jefferson in Centralia, regarding a recent display of books dealing with gender-identity in the children’s section.
The library’s director, Amy Hopkins, confirmed that a Lauren Benoit had approached the library and the Board of Alderman about the issue with concerns of the library putting on a display for the transgender community.
“She saw a couple of books on our new arrival shelf and disagreed with them being in the children’s section of the library,” Hopkins said. “They had an alternate-lifestyle theme. She thought we had made a display which was incorrect: They were on the new arrival shelf. My children’s librarian had bought a handful of books for Pride Month.
“We keep items on the new arrival shelf for three months and then put them in with the regular collection.”
The four books are, Pink is for Boys by Robb Pearlman, My Awesome Brother: A Children’s Book About Transgender Acceptance by Lise Francis, Jack (Not Jackie) by Erica Silverman and Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah Brannen.
Attempts to reach Benoit for comment were unsuccessful.
“She filled out some book challenge forms, and she would like us to remove all books with the LGBTQ agenda from the children’s room,” Hopkins said.
The topic was discussed at the most recent library board meeting as some members of the community came to discuss their thoughts on the subject.
“The board will make a decision, but they are wanting to consult extra help,” Hopkins said. “The board has nine members … they don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of thing. We just want to do it the correct way.”
The next regular library board meeting will be held October 12, but a special meeting could take place before then.
“I haven’t heard a lot yet,” Hopkins said about public opinion. “I did have an angry patron call me about the issue. She had heard about it and was concerned. She said she couldn’t believe we had those kind of books in our children’s room.”
Hopkins noted she asked the woman if she had read any of the books and the response was no.
Hopkins also said Benoit’s approach was a polite representation of a concerned parent.
“She thought we were putting on a display, but I have been here 19 years and there have always been alternative-type books,” Hopkins said. “We don’t have a lot of them because of our community. We are mainly a conservative community, but we have taxpayers who are gay and also transgender.
“We have to have materials for everybody.”
The Mayor of Centralia, Chris Cox, addressed the issue at last week’s Board of Alderman special meeting and said he doesn’t want to interfere with library business.
“We work in conjunction with the library board and it was theirs to handles as far as I am concerned,” Cox said. “I did make them aware that the lady sent me pictures of the books on display and her concerns about the alternative sexual preference of the young reader books.”
Cox said that he agrees with Hopkins that libraries service “all folks,” and serviced some requests.
“People took exception because they thought the library was taking a stance promoting a specific lifestyle,” Cox said. “It wasn’t for me or the board to determine. It was in their house, and I think they handled it well.
“All taxpayers are considered equally and services that they request are reasonable. That’s what the library had done with no attempt to join a side.”
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