Under new leadership, the Foley Public Library has removed several books from its children and teen sections following complaints of inappropriate sexual content.

Executive director of leisure services David Thompson said an 1819 News story in August alerted city and library leadership to issues that needed to be addressed.

Former library director John Jackson told 1819 News that he would fight to preserve freedom and constitutional rights. He said he would not remove inappropriate material from the children's and teen's sections even if he saw it.

Jackson has since resigned from Foley to move to Wyoming for another opportunity.

Kate Norris is the new library director, and Maggie Pearson is the new children's librarian. Anna Hallex is the youth services librarian in the young adult section.

While a materials reconsideration policy was in place at the time of the complaints, Thompson said it has since been improved.

"I'm not saying that every book over there is in the right place," said Thompson. "If a parent finds something that they feel is not appropriate, we want them to bring that to our attention.

"We have a materials reconsideration policy that really wasn't well defined until all of this came about. We have a committee of multiple people that will look at the books to make sure that they are appropriate and where they need to be."

Recently, 10 challenged books were moved to another section or removed from the shelves altogether. Nine books were moved to the adult section while one was taken out of the library. Only one book, "Who Am I?" was moved from the children's section to the adult section. The other challenged books were initially in the teen section. "Gender Queer," a graphic novel, was removed from the library.

Thompson explained the book was removed due to pornographic images, not because of the LGBTQ content.

"Thumbing through the whole book, you wouldn't see it, but when you know what you're looking for, it took me five minutes to find the picture," Thompson explained. "But once we found it, there's 100% no way we should ever have explicit sexual act in a book in the library, and that one was, we immediately pulled it, and it has been removed from our library.

"We don't want to remove books from our library because there may be somebody that needs that that's trying to explain to their child something that they're experiencing in their lives but not at a juvenile or children's level. That needs to be parental."

The city provided a list of challenged books and what the outcome of the reconsideration process was. That list can be viewed below.

With a new $20 million library in the works, Thompson said he hopes to separate the children and teen sections by putting teens on the second floor and calling it the teen section instead of calling it the young adult section, as it is now. The young adult section is for ages 12–18.

Thompson said he was pleased with the changes and believed the new leadership would make all the difference.

"I am really excited about the leadership of the library," Thompson said. "I think Kate is going to be outstanding."

Challenged Books - Foley Library by Erica Thomas on Scribd

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