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

GREENVILLE – The Greenville County Library System Board of Trustees voted to temporarily name all book clubs in an internal event document as “book club,” dropping any such categories as “romance” or “LGBTQIA+”.

The temporary change — passed by a 9-2 vote on Oct. 24 — will remain in place while a board committee meets to create a new, neutral regulatory framework for the program, including and how and if library-sponsored controversial events. issues that need to be raised. The policy may also review what is considered controversial.

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At the end of the October meeting during the new business session of the program, board chair Allan Hill distributed copies of the September/October issue of the library’s event guide to each of the board members. On page 3 of the brochure, he directed their attention to the “Rainbow Book Club,” a club for people aged 18 and over at the Anderson Road Branch.

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“Celebrate LGBTQIA+ books with the Rainbow Book Club, a welcoming and inclusive community for bookworms,” ​​the club’s description read. It is a club sponsored by the library, led by a district employee.

GCLS board of trustees

Greenville County Library System Board of Trustees at its meeting on October 24, 2022. Stephanie Mirah/Staff

The fourth book school held its first meeting on Sept. 21 and the second in Oct. 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 “This Town Sleeps” by Dennis E. Staples and “Kiss Her Once for Me” by Alison Cochrun will be discussed, respectively. Each of the books is currently in the library’s archives.

Hill said he received criticism about the ad, saying it seemed like the library was promoting a “Rainbow Book Club” and discussed LGBTQ+ issues.

“It seemed like the library was choosing to promote this brand and lifestyle and the agenda that goes with it,” Hill said.

“As we said last time, the library needs to be a place that doesn’t advocate one agenda over another, especially on controversial issues,” Hill said.

Hill first said that the use of district funds and club equipment “is a departure from the old policy that has been in place for several years.”

That statement was disputed by board member Brian Aufmuth, who questioned what law the brochure violated.

“The way the library has operated in the past has been that the library doesn’t take a position on controversial issues,” Hill responded. “We didn’t have to have a written document regarding this type of thing because that’s how it’s always been done.”

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Hill read a policy of use which stated, “the library will not promote or oppose any religion, culture, philosophy or politics or opinion.”

“We’re not trying to censor the books. We’re not trying to ban the books. We’re trying to come to a decision where we have the impartiality that we’ve been known for,” Hill said.

After a short discussion with several board members sharing their ideas and suggestions, Executive Director Beverly James asked the board to guide her in the design of the announcement of the “Rainbow Book Club” for November/December events, the guide will be published in the near future. .

Board member Elizabeth Collins moved that all book clubs be called “book club” and the addition of an age-recommended list of specific titles will be discussed. He added that this change will be temporary until the law can be proposed by the labor committee. The motion was passed with two members opposing.

The library will continue to host and support the book club formerly known as the “Rainbow Book Club.”

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The steering committee was tasked with developing a draft document that will be presented to the full board. Library board meetings are not held on scheduled dates, so the best way to track when the committee will meet is to check the library board website for postings, which are required at least 24 hours before the meeting.

At the Oct. 24 meeting, the board also approved a revised policy on how members of the public can appear before it. One of the biggest changes is that the public can only voice their opinions at full board meetings and not during committee or special meetings.

The board meeting comes five months into a debate over library system issues, particularly those with LGBTQ content. A stirring incident occurred in late June when a library director ordered staff to remove Pride Month displays from its 12 branches. The displays were quickly restored after the upgrade.

Follow Stephanie Mirah on Twitter @stephaniemirah


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