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Library board postpones decision on trigger warnings committee

Campbell County Public Library System Board Charlie Anderson talks about the special committee at the board's May 22 meeting in Wright. (GPA-TV)

GILLETTE, Wyo. — The Campbell County Public Library System board decided this week to postpone making a decision regarding whether it’s worth the time and effort to advance the work of a special committee that has been working to develop a patron-led system of trigger warnings.

The volunteer committee has been working to determine how patrons could review library books’ content to flag the presence of violence, sexual content or other elements of concern.

Board member Charlie Anderson said at the May 22 board meeting in Wright that he can’t imagine a scenario in which the online review of a given book wouldn’t mention that the book contains concerning aspects and that he’s concerned about what people might write in the label’s notes section since it’s not reviewed. It might be better for a community organization to put together a list of books that contain such content.

Board member Darcie Lyon said parents can check book reviews on the GoodReads website or app.

Board member Chelsie Collier said some people want to have a tangible marker, not an online system, so that the ratings are accessible to every patron.

Board chair Sage Bear said that a parent she’s spoken with said that her child is very sensitive to violence and reads above his age level so she painstakingly looks through books to check for that content.

“But I don’t know if that warrants a whole system,” Bear said.

Executive Director Terri Lesley said that while she appreciates the committee’s motives, she’s concerned about the administration of such a system. Problems could come up with interlibrary loans and accounting for any damage to books.

As Collier requested, the board will allow the committee to provide feedback regarding the concerns before the board makes a final decision.

Bear said this afternoon that the special committee will look at other options and likely be disbanded after the reconsideration.

Staff survey

Lesley said she has received multiple requests, including a public records request, for the results of the library staff survey.

Campbell County Deputy Attorney Kyle Ferris said that since it has questions regarding Lesley’s performance, survey results fall under personnel matters. Public records requests recipients typically must deny the release of personnel matters, under the law.

Ferris said he would prepare paperwork for Lesley to sign to waive her rights to confidentiality regarding the survey, as Lesley said she’s willing to do.

Bear said that she believes it’s best that the board waits to release the results until board members discuss the survey.

Library notes

  • Campbell County libraries will be closed May 27–29 in observance of Memorial Day.
  • This year’s summer reading program kicks off June 3. The theme is “All Together Now.”
  • Bear’s term ends June 30.
  • Anyone who wishes to provide written commentary on the library board’s proposed changes to the collection development policy must submit the commentary by May 30. Written comment will be accepted at Campbell County Public Library, 2101 S. 4-J Road, Gillette, WY, 82718, during normal business hours, according to a notice of intent to adopt rules. People can also email comments to Lesley at terri.lesley@campbellcountywy.gov.
  • The next board meetings are as follows:
    • 4 p.m. June 8, Campbell County Public Library Wyoming Room: Special Meeting, Collection Development Policy
    • 4:30 p.m. June 21, Campbell County Public Library Board Room: Voucher Approval Meeting
    • 4:30 p.m. June 26, Campbell County Public Library Wyoming Room: Regular Meeting. The board decided May 22 that Campbell County commissioners won’t need to attend the June 26 meeting since there aren’t discussion items that warrant commissioners’ participation.