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Campbell library board begins line-by-line discussion of collection development policy

The Library Board discusses the collections development policy at its Jan. 5 meeting. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — Campbell County Public Library System Board of Trustees’ meeting today on revisions to the Collection Development Policy included the elimination of references to the American Library Association, or ALA; a discussion of the First Amendment and the library board’s authority regarding library materials and obscenity; and an agreement that there’s plenty of more work ahead on Gillette’s edition of a national controversy over books.

The board on Jan. 5 managed to get through only the first 60 pages of the 103-page document. Changes primarily involved the elimination of references to the ALA. The board also said patrons who have asked library staff to remove or delete a library book from a library collection and wish to appeal to the Library Board after receiving notice of the library director’s decision on the item will have 20 days to make that appeal.

Then, they reached the policy section dedicated to children’s collections.

Chair Sage Bear said she wanted the following language to be included in the policy:

(Sage Bear)

Board Member Charlie Anderson said he agrees with Bear that the library shouldn’t include in its collections any materials Wyoming courts determine to be obscene. He said people disagree about whether the books are obscene, and, at this point, the courts haven’t determined that the challenged books are obscene.

There’s a great deal of difference between the application of the law and what laws appear to say, he said. He said he wants to avoid violating the First Amendment and would prefer to wait until courts determine whether the books are obscene. He said he’s read each challenged book and doesn’t believe any would be deemed to appeal primarily to prurient interest.

Bear said she doesn’t want to wait for the courts to decide that the books are obscene. She said she doesn’t want to make harmful materials available to children.

About 25 people attended the meeting, which didn’t include a public comment session. Three Campbell County Sheriff’s Office deputies stood by. (Mary Stroka/County 17)

Board member Chelsie Collier said she wants the policy to say that library staff must review the policy before ordering books. She said that when she worked at the library, she was never asked to review and understand the collections development policy, even though she was in charge of purchasing books.

“I honestly think they hide behind the collection development policy and they just order what they want,” she said.

She said there should be more accountability.

County 17 asked Lesley after the meeting whether she had any response to Collier’s statements. Lesley said she would need to look into it and wasn’t prepared to respond. She said Collier was not on the library staff for a long time.

Collier told County 17 she was a youth services specialist for the library’s Gillette branch from June 2020 to August 2021.

After the board reached the conclusion of the two hours it was scheduled to meet, Bear said she wanted to meet next week since she wants to finish the discussion, but other board members weren’t ready to set a date.

Anderson said he appreciates Bear’s sincere desire to finish the work over, but it’s a complicated task.

“That’s why there isn’t an answer in this country. That’s why this is going on all over the place,” he said. “There are no simple solutions, or we’d be there by now.”

Bear said after the meeting that the board will next meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 23, which is its regular scheduled meeting time. At that meeting, the board will decide when to set a date for the next special board meeting regarding the Collection Development Policy. Bear said that once the board has reviewed the whole policy together, the board will post a document detailing the revisions. Then, the board will vote on them at a public meeting.