PRATTVILLE — After several recent resignations, the Autauga County Commission selected three replacement board members for the embattled Prattville-Autauga Library Board of Trustees.
For months, residents have complained to the Autauga County Commission and Prattville City Council about children's books with sexually explicit content.
In April, 1819 News reported on several mothers expressing concern with sexually explicit and LGBTQ-promoting children's books in the Autauga-Prattville Public Library, available for any child to read at will.
The result was the formation of two groups opposed to the books, Clean Up Prattville and Clean Up Alabama. The former focuses on the Prattville library, while the latter addresses statewide library issues. Another group, Read Freely Alabama, was also formed from the Prattville controversy, which advocates for keeping all challenged books where they are.
Since the controversy began, every library board member has resigned, leaving only two remaining members, both of whom were appointed in November.
The Prattville City Council and the Autauga County Commission each appoint an equal number of members to the seven-person board, with one appointment rotating annually between the two.
At a Tuesday meeting, the county commission swiftly filled its three vacancies on the board after a lengthy public comment from those supporting and opposing relocating or removing certain books. The commission unanimously appointed Rachel Daniels, Ray Boles and Logan Strock to the board. The city council met that night but did not address the library board vacancies.
Those who spoke with 1819 News expressed little to no knowledge of the new board members or their positions on the book controversy. However, Clean Up Alabama released a statement expressing optimism about the change.
"CUA anxiously waits to see what the new board members will do and continues calling on the board to enact reasonable policies that will protect children from sexual content," the statement read.
Critics of the county commission suggested at the meeting that they were more friendly to Clean Up Alabama, pointing to the commission's appointment of Doug Darr. The commission appointed Darr without first receiving a recommendation from the then-remaining library board members. In contrast, the city accepted the board's recommendation of Christie Sellers, an adult romance author. Critics also accused the commission of keeping their candidates secret to avoid targeting or backlash.
Several supporters spoke in favor of library policies that would remove or restrict access to certain books, while others spoke in favor of keeping the books and accused the commission of capitulating to "right-wing extremists."
After the meeting, Autauga County Commissioner Rusty Jacksland released a statement praising the commission's swift action in filling the vacancies.
"I am proud of how this Commission came together quickly and decisively to appoint members to the library board that are representatives of our entire community," Jacksland said. "Through these appointments, the library board will have a diverse set of skills and abilities that will serve all the library's patrons. Autauga County deserves a library board that can navigate the questions facing the library through thoughtful, respectful discussion."
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