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Local Library and Media Center Vote

Updated: Mar 11, 2022

My personal thoughts on the recent issues with library books.


On Monday February 28, 2022, the school board of Indian River County voted on recommendations that would bring changes to our school libraries and media center systems, policies, procedures, and access. As a school board member, it was the most disappointing meeting since I was elected to the school board in 2018.


On the agenda were several recommendations from the superintendent regarding the current state of inappropriate library books and how we can ensure unlawful books would not be put back on the library shelves in our schools.


The following are my personal views about this issue. I could not share my full thoughts at the meeting because Dr. Mara Schiff immediately made a motion to “call the question,” after each board member was given only 3 minutes to share our initial thoughts. “Calling the question” is part of Roberts’s Rules of Order. It is a way of shutting down a discussion before a final vote. She was seconded by Dr. Peggy Jones . This motion to stop further discussions prevented board members from asking clarifying questions of the superintendent, sharing our views, or listening to any other views about the superintendent’s recommendations. Following the motion to "call the question" was a final vote to adopt Dr. Moore’s recommendations regarding the library and media centers policies, media center functionalities, and whether the 150+ questionable library books would remain on the shelves. Only five books from the large list were recommended for removal. This vote to accept his recommendations passed 4 – 1. I was the only dissenting vote.


The result of this 4-1 vote put all but 5 non-age appropriate books back on the shelves of our school libraries from all grades K-12. I was not able to share my thoughts that night, but you deserve to know what I would have said about such an important topic.


According to the Florida DOE, the mission of the Office of Library Media Services is to ensure that school librarians create and maintain quality library programs that foster the love of reading and the effective use of ideas and information by both students and faculty. This mission is accomplished by building programs that:


• provide intellectual and physical access to materials in a variety of formats,

provide instruction to advance competence and stimulate interest in reading

• involve other educators in designing learning strategies that meet the needs of individual students


I want to go on record to say, that any of the conversations I have had regarding school libraries / media centers is in no way a direct insult to media center specialists in SDIRC. Quite the contrary, what has been revealed of late is an indication of the lack of support and training for hard working employees on the part of the district not the employees themselves. Their work loads and responsibilities have increased over the years, creating huge impacts on the careful and specific vetting of books placed on the shelves.


Fl statute 1012.01 states, Librarians / Media Specialists are responsible for EVALUATION, SELECTING, ORGANIZING, AND MANAGING MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES, EQUIPMENT, AND RELATED SYSTEMS; FACILITATING ACCESS TO INFORMATION RESOURCES BEYOND THE SCHOOL; WORKING WITH TEACHERS TO MAKE RESOURCES AVAILABLE IN THE INSTRUCTIONAL PROGRAMS; ASSISTING TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN MEDIA PRODUCTION; AND INSTRUCTING STUDENTS IN THE LOCATION AND USE OF INFORMATION RESOURCES.


That said, it is the district’s responsibility to ensure board policies and procedures are in place, are up to date and current. If this is not happening, then libraries and media center specialists like most other positions in our district, will not be able to do their job effectively. It’s not 100 percent fair to point fingers in the wrong places during a time such as this. Right now, we have a problem, and it needs to be addressed at the district level starting with the Superintendent of curriculum and instruction and ultimately the Superintendent of Schools.


Why do school libraries matter?


School libraries matter because they are designed to help improve student performance through enriched reading and learning programs; create a safe place that values students from different cultures and backgrounds; and teach students how to become independent thinkers and researchers. School libraries can also have an impact on closing the achievement gap by providing access to the stories, information, and technology.


Library collections should be carefully selected to meet the targets and goals set forth in our district strategic plan, but first they should always align with our state standards for learning. Library books should also follow state statutes.


Many books in our school libraries do not meet this standard.


More than 150 books were found to have of sexually explicit, pornographic content and/or some form of racially divisive content. Both of which are unlawful. For purposes of this response, I am only commenting on the pornographic books. Again, last night, the school board voted in favor of the superintendent’s recommendations 4-1 to keep these books available to all children in our schools who are primarily under the age of 18 years old.


My vote was in opposition of this insanity. I will post another blog soon to provide more details on my vote.


[Disclaimer: The above views are not an endorsement of the SDIRC. My views do not reflect the board corporate.]


To watch the vote from the February 28th meeting, please watch here https://youtu.be/vsJgy_XxQT4


For a better understanding on how these recommendations were required of our superintendent, please watch the Nov. 16, 2021 meeting (1:56:38) link is here-> https://youtu.be/Db0yLi6lkNw


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