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

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Library Board of Trustees has voted to rename all book clubs in its internal event guide to “book club,” dropping any designations such as “romance” or “LGBTQIA+.”

The temporary change — passed by a 9-2 vote on Oct. 24 – will stop while the working committee of the board meets to formulate a new policy to control the neutrality of the program, and how and if the events sponsored by the libraries contain conflicting events. issues should be encouraged. The policy may review what is seen as controversial.

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At the end of the October meeting during the new agenda section, board chair Allan Hill distributed copies of the September/October library event guide to each board member. On page 3 of the booklet, he directed their attention to the “Rainbow Book Club,” a club for people 18 and older at the Anderson Road branch.

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“Celebrate LGBTQIA+ literature with the Rainbow Book Club, a welcoming and inclusive community of bookworms,” ​​the club’s description read.

GCLS Board of Trustees

The Greenville County Library System Board of Trustees at its Oct. 24, 2022. Stephanie Mirah/Staff

The four-session book group held its first meeting on September 21 and the 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 “This Town Sleeps” by Dennis E. Staples and “Kiss Her Once for Me” by Alison Cochrun will be discussed, respectively. Each book is now in the library’s collection.

Hill said he received objections to the ad, saying it seemed like the library was promoting the “Rainbow Book Club” and its LGBTQ+ discussed materials.

“It seemed like the library chose to promote this label and the lifestyle and agenda that goes with that,” Hill said.

“As we’ve said in the past, the library is intended to be a place that doesn’t promote any one agenda over another, especially on controversial issues,” Hill said.

Hill initially said the use of city funds and book club resources “is a violation of policy that has been in place for several years.”

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

“The way the library has worked in the past is that the library doesn’t take sides on controversial issues,” Hill responded. “We didn’t have to have a written policy about this kind of thing because that was standard care.”

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Hill read a material policy that stated, “the library will not promote or issue any religious, moral, philosophical or political opinion.”

“We’re not trying to check the books. We’re not trying to close the books. We’re trying to reach an option where we can be neutral that we’ve known before,” said Hill.

After a short discussion with many board members sharing their thoughts and suggestions, Executive Director Beverly James asked the board to guide him on how to edit the advertising of the “Rainbow Book Club” for the November / December events guide that will be published soon. .

Board member Elizabeth Collins moved that all book clubs be given the title “book club” and the addition of a recommended age range for a list of specific topics to be discussed. He added that the changes would be temporary until a policy could be recommended by the working committee. The motion was carried by two members of the opposition.

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

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A working committee was tasked with developing a draft policy to be presented to the full board. Library committee meetings do not occur on scheduled dates, so the best way to track when the committee will meet is to monitor the library board website for postings, which is required at least 24 hours before the meeting.

During the October 24 meeting, the board also adopted a revised policy on how the public can appear before it. One of the most important changes is that the public can only make public comments during full board meetings and not during committee or special called meetings.

The board meeting comes five months into a debate about library program materials, particularly those with an LGBTQ theme. A provocative incident occurred at the end of June when one of the library’s leaders ordered staff to remove the Level Month displays from its 12 branches. The shows were quickly restored after the push.

Follow Stephanie Mirah on Twitter @stephaniemirah


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