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

GREENVILLE – The Greenville County Library System board voted to temporarily change the name of all book clubs to “book club” in its internal event directory, effectively eliminating any themed branding such as “romance” or “LGBTQIA +” leaves.

The temporary change — which was approved by a 9-2 vote on Oct. 24 — will be put on hold while the board’s operations committee develops a new policy to manage the system’s neutral status asymmetry, along with how and if library-sponsored events that contain controversy. 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 President Alan Hill distributed copies of the September/October library meeting guide to board members. On page 3 of the brochure, he directed their attention to the “Rainbow Book Club,” an 18-and-over club in the Anderson Road branch.

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

GCLS Board of Trustees

Greenville County Library System Board at its October 24, 2022 meeting. Stephanie Merah/Employee

The four-meeting book club held its first meeting on September 21 and its second on October 19. “Honey Girl” by Morgan Rogers and “Cemetery Boys” by Aidan Thomas were discussed respectively. The book club will hold two more meetings on November 16 and December 14 where they will discuss “This City Sleeps” by Dennis E. Staples and “Kiss Her Ones for Me” by Allison Cochron, respectively. Each book is currently in the library’s collection.

Hill said he received objections to the ad, which appeared to suggest the library was promoting the “Rainbow Book Club” and its controversial LGBTQ+ material.

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

“As we said last time, what the library intends to be is a place where no one agenda pushes 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 been in place for several years.”

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

“The way the library has operated in the past is that the library does not take positions on controversial issues,” Hill responded. “We didn’t have a written policy about things like that because that’s the way it’s traditionally been taken care of.”

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Hill read a materials policy that stated, “The library will neither promote nor 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 get to an option where we have the neutrality that we’ve been known for in the past,” Hill said.

After a brief discussion with several board members sharing their ideas and suggestions, Executive Director Beverly James asked the board to guide her on how to edit the “Rainbow Book Club” ads for the November/December event guide that will be published soon. be printed .

Board member Elizabeth Collins moved that all book clubs be called “book clubs” by adding a suggested age limit to the list of specific titles to be discussed. She added that the change will be temporary until a policy is recommended by the operations committee. This motion was passed with two members opposing.

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 drafting the policy to be presented to the full board. Library committee meetings are not regularly held on specific days, so the best way to keep track of when the committee meets is to monitor the library board website for postings, which are at least 24 hours before the meeting. Hours in advance are required.

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

This board meeting marks five months of discussions about library system materials, particularly those containing LGBTQ content. The inciting incident occurred at the end of June when someone in library leadership instructed staff to remove Pride Month displays in 12 branches. The displays were quickly repositioned after the pushback.

Follow Stephanie Mirah on Twitter @stephaniemirah


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