COLUMBUS, Ohio — Librarians wrapped up a week of celebrations for National Library Week, but many now return to dealing with the struggles of book removals and challenges.

What You Need To Know

  • The National Library Week theme centered on how people could connect with their local libraries

  • While K-12 schools around the country are moving swiftly to remove books from shelves, public library advocates said they don’t discriminate or endorse material

  • Public libraries have policies in place to determine if materials stay or go

  • Community interests also help determine library material in their local branches

Michelle Francis, executive director of the Ohio Library Council, said lending Wi-Fi hotspots, engaging in after-school tutoring and programs is how libraries connect with their communities.

Yet, as librarians in the public and K-12 education sector have connected with the public, they’ve had to zero-in on library policies which do not discriminate, a process Francis referred to as serving from “cradle to grave.”

Some people struggle with materials on library shelves that seem inappropriate for certain age groups. Francis said, however, libraries serve everyone. 

“We do not discriminate, but we also don’t necessarily endorse either,” Francis said. “We have a constitutional obligation to provide access to information so that people have the freedom to read, and that is what is most important.”

Francis said that in all public libraries, they have a policy that dictates how they develop their collection and what they do when they receive books that are donated from members of the public or from publishers.

She said usually within that collection development policy will be a form of reconsideration as well.

“So, if an individual is not happy with a material or a program that the library’s offering, they have the ability to complete that form and submit that form to the library,” she said. “We have had a few, but the process is in place if individuals do have a concern.”

Since Ohio is a local-control state, Francis said what lands on library shelves are based on what local communities desire and request.

While public libraries in other states have seen more challenges to materials, Francis said Ohio has only seen a few.