Rapides library board tables discussion on Policies and Reconsideration Committee

The Rapides Parish Library Board of Control has tabled a discussion about forming a Policies and Reconsideration Committee.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 3:55 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 21, 2023 at 9:45 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - The Rapides Parish Library Board of Control has tabled a discussion about forming a Policies and Reconsideration Committee, pending legislation in the upcoming legislative session.

The move comes after January’s meeting, in which the board decided to seek legal advice from Attorney General Jeff Landry’s office on how to address the ongoing debate over its collection development policy. The request came during a meeting in which the board was set to vote on a proposed amendment to the policy, introduced by board member James Morgan, which would bar children and teens collections from including “materials containing obscenity, sexual content (including content regarding sexual orientation and gender identity) or any other material that is unsuitable.”

The board’s counsel, Greg Jones, expressed concerns that the proposed amendment could be challenged in court if passed by the board. The majority of the board instead opted to seek the AG’s opinion. Jones presented that response to the board on Tuesday.

“They have pointed out some areas that the board needs to take a look at, as far as policies on sexually explicit materials and how to access those materials,” said Jones.

The AG did not comment on the constitutionality of the proposed amendment but did, however, recommend possible changes to the policy. In doing so, the AG pointed the board’s attention to SB7, filed by State Senator Heather Cloud (R-District 28), advising them to “monitor” the bill’s outcome.

Her bill provides definitions of what is considered sexual conduct and sexually explicit. Those definitions do not relate to gender identity or sexual orientation, although the debate in local libraries, including in Rapides Parish, has centered around whether LGBTQ+ material falls under the definition of sexually explicit.

In light of that, the board decided to not move forward with creating the Polices and Reconsideration Committee, which would have included members appointed by the board’s president, Le’Anza D. Jordan, and would be designated to oversee the policies that help develop materials put into circulation, as well as the process of taking up requests for reconsideration of certain materials.

Tuesday’s meeting was also the first since the attorney general’s office released its protecting innocence report. The report was created to address ongoing concerns in public libraries across the state regarding content for minors. Cloud’s bill was introduced during a press conference on the release of that report and is a form of legislation formed around recommendations made within it.

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