Over 20 books challenged at Thomas County Public Library

Over 20 books challenged at Thomas County Public Library
Published: Nov. 6, 2022 at 6:01 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 8, 2022 at 5:24 PM EST
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THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - Over 20 books at the Thomas County Public Library have been challenged and brought up for reconsideration of circulation.

Some of those books are in the teen and young adult sections.

Books like “The Other Boy” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” are just two of those publications called into question. Community members are saying the material in these books is inappropriate for young readers.

Books like "The Other Boy" by M. G. Hennessey are a part of other books being questioned.
Books like "The Other Boy" by M. G. Hennessey are a part of other books being questioned.(WALB)

The concerns started surfacing in September. Other familiar titles under review include “The Kite Runner”, “All the Boys Aren’t Blue” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”. Most of these books include race and sexuality as topics.

“In my 10 years as a library director, I have never had one material challenged,” said Holly Phillips, director of Thomas County Public Library System.

Phillips said some of the feedback she has received about these books say they “promote transgender agenda to children”, “Bible calls queer an abomination” and that the material had “controversial diversity issues” and included profanity.

Right now, 12 books have been reviewed by the library and either moved to the adult section or left in the teen and young adult sections.

“Once somebody fills out a form that they want us to reconsider the item, the first thing that we do is we get our library staff committee together and we make a recommendation on what we would like to see,” Phillips said. “We might agree with the patron and say this really needs to be in the adult section, not exactly age-appropriate or we might decide no we believe it needs to stay where it is.”

People are allowed to appeal the library board’s decision. After hearing the argument, the board makes a final decision. So far, two books have been appealed and are awaiting final review.

Phillips said the library takes all community input into consideration.

The library system has heard arguments from both sides of the controversy.
The library system has heard arguments from both sides of the controversy.(WALB)

“Some of the complaints that we have been getting, I believe, are just a reflection of things going on in our society. And while these issues are certainly hard for some people to talk about, think about, (or) read about, those issues happen regardless. And we just feel like all voices and all perspectives need to be heard,” she said.

Some people like Robert Gilmore bring his kids to the library almost every week. He said the material in their library should reflect the Thomas County community.

“The public library is made up of people in the community and so it should reflect that. If it doesn’t reflect that, there are holes that can be put into a child’s education if they don’t know about different people from different places,” Gilmore said.

Gilmore added that parents should be the main determiner of what their kids should or should not read.

“It’s also up to the parents to check the content of the books that are being read,” he said.

Gladys Dodson another Thomasville resident, said it would improve the library to take out some books from the teen and young adult sections.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a bad thing at all to take some books out that should not be there. That LGBTQ, yeah, I just don’t want that kind of thing in our library to destroy it,” she said.

Another frequent library goer Frank Wilson said books in the library reflect our right of freedom of speech.

“I believe freedom of reading too, so I think that’s a constitutional right that everyone has that comes here to the library. I think it’s not that controversial you know what they’re bringing up,” Wilson said.

On November 21st the library board will meet to decide whether or not some of the books will be removed permanently from the library or just moved to a different section.