Hamilton East Public Library is in the first phase of implementing a policy the library board adopted late last year requiring a review of all books and other material in the children and teen sections.
The review will consider content such as nudity, substance use, repeated use of profanity, depictions or incitement to violence, and sexual content.
The policy will take time to fully implement and is expected to cost more than $300,000. Ongoing annual costs to continue implementing the policy are an estimated $200,000, according to HEPL Library Director Edra Waterman’s report to the board. That’s all staffing costs, because all the books need to be read to see if their content requires that they be moved to the adult section.
“There is considerable complexity in the work associated with this project,” she wrote. “Over 11,000 item records and 18,000 individual copies are impacted by this change, and each will require individual hands-on attention and processing.”
Waterman estimates that implementing the plan will take 8,000 hours of staff time.
According to the policy, “Material containing pictorial depictions of nudity involving lewd exhibition of the genitals, nudity involving genitals in an aroused state, sexual conduct (including masturbation, vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, oral-anal sex, the use of sex toys, ejaculation, or sadomasochistic abuse) will not be shelved in the juvenile/youth, middle school and high school sections.”
The policy includes a list of words considered profanity. They are similar to those prohibited for broadcast by the Federal Communication Commission.
The policy defines violence as “repeated purposeful conduct that injures the body or property of another in a manner that would be a crime under Indiana law, or the incitement of another to engage in purposeful conduct that injures the person or property of another in a manner that would be a crime under Indiana law.”
It includes a list of violent crimes: Murder, homicide, rape, sexual assault, battery, kidnapping, robbery, arson, child abuse, human trafficking, rioting and terrorism.
The policy also allows members of the community to request a review of specific material. Submitted requests go first to the library director, manager and selection librarian.
“The material will be reviewed in its entirety and not on portions taken out of context,” the policy states, and the director will respond to the request within six weeks.
If the community member is not happy with the outcome, they can appeal it to the board, which will appoint a review committee comprising a librarian, a board member and a local citizen appointed by the board. The committee will make a formal recommendation to the board, which will make a final determination.
The policy stresses that parents and legal guardians have the right and responsibility to determine what is appropriate for their children.
“Parents should be aware that children have access to all materials in the library,” the policy states. “Library staff do not monitor or censor the reading selections of children. It is the responsibility of the parent to monitor their children’s access to materials while in the library.”