School library policy proposal fails in Rapid City
With more than a dozen speakers at this week’s meeting, community interest in library content remains high, but the issue is far from resolved.
Debated was the new library resource management policy. Under this proposal, a tiered review system for complaints would be implemented, beginning at the school level and gradually reaching the Board. During the review process, the material in question would be removed from the school’s library.
Questions remain regarding this proposed policy, including the potential increased workload on staff. Kara Flynn is the executive director of the Rapid City Public School Foundation. She spoke against the proposal.
“At a time period where we are really having trouble retaining teachers, you are putting lots of review committees in, you are making it unlimited the number of books that can be challenged, and you are making them automatically pull the books from the shelves," Flynn said. "So, what is going to occur here is there is going to be another workload put on the librarians.”
Another resident who spoke against the proposed policy was Rocky Akason, who raised concerns about the review process.
“Taking the book out of circulation during review and allowing multiple books to be challenged multiple times could result in literally one person being able to remove books from circulation for everyone indefinitely," Akason said. "Now, this doesn’t just apply to highly questionable materials. One person doesn’t like any religious text such as the Bible, the Koran, the Torah – it’s gone.”
The debate was reflected in the board's decision. Board Vice President Troy Carr abstained from the vote. He said the current policy, which involves filing a formal complaint with the school, is still untested.
“We don’t have any factual evidence the policy doesn’t work because nobody has filed an official complaint to allow the policy to go through its steps," Carr said. "For me, until that happens, I’m going to support the current policy until someone can factually, and evidentially, say this policy doesn’t work, or we may find out that it does work.”
Carr’s abstention did not count as a formal vote, and the measure failed on a three-two margin. School officials say a majority of the board is needed for the measure to pass.