After conducting two special meetings last month, the Hamilton East Public Library board amended its collection development policy on Dec. 15, resulting in the relocation of a controversial children’s book to the library’s adult section.
In November of 2022, the Hamilton East Public Library board discussed restricting access to the book “Making a Baby” by Rachel Greener, which was cataloged in the children’s section by recommendation of the publisher. The library received a request for reconsideration in October 2022 from a patron regarding the book, asking that it be moved out of the children’s collection because of “graphic depictions of sex.”
The book includes a detailed outline of various methods of procreation, ranging from in vitro fertilization to sex. The issues that some patrons found with the book centered on the illustrations associated with procreation. The board considered the concerns and voted in favor of restricting access to the book. The vote resulted in a change to the library’s collection development policy outlining that explicit depictions of sex in any book will result in the book being placed in the adult section of the library.
The board held special meetings on Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 for the public to voice opinions.
The changes approved by the library board were contested by some members of the public, while others voiced approval for the board’s decisions. Fishers resident Amber Carmichael commended the board for its decision to restrict access to “inappropriate” books for children, saying that social media was a source of misinformation on the matter.
“Back in December 2021, my husband and I started attending (library) board meetings,” Carmichael said. “Over the past year, there have been several occasions where misinformation on social media has caused people to show up (to the meetings) in droves to speak out against ‘book banning,’ only to discover that no one was asking for a book to be banned.
“The views of those in favor of the policy change and those who aren’t are more closely aligned than many of you think. It’s something this library most desperately needs.”
Geist-area residents Barbi Stenacker and Ginny Reetz said the board’s decision to relocate the book to the adult section “overstepped” the board’s authorized power.
“What it boils down to is a power struggle on the board, because cataloged books at the library are organized by their suggested category as declared by the publisher,” Reetz said. “(That means) if it’s listed as a children’s book, then it should stay in the children’s section.”
Michelle Payne, vice president of the board, said moving educational books for children to the adult section does not necessarily keep a child from seeing the book. Instead, the policy change may “expose” children to other adult materials not intended for their consumption.
“What about when a child goes looking for this book in the adult section?” Payne said. “Then they’re exposed to even more graphic (books) that aren’t intended for them. If the point is to protect children from graphic depictions of sex, then why are we sending them to the adult section?”
Although the board has changed the library’s collection development policy to prohibit the placement of sexually graphic books in the children’s section, the board expects to conduct future public meetings on the matter.