Books banned in North Texas: TLA organizes a convention in Fort Worth

“A parent called 9-1-1 and police raided a school library. We are very concerned about this,” Woodard said.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The book ban controversy has been so talked about lately that it can, ironically enough, fill the shelves of a library.

The WFAA spoke with Texas Library Association president-elect Mary Woodard, who has three decades of library experience. The Texas Library Association (TLA) held its annual convention in Fort Worth this week, and 4,400 public and private school librarians attended.

“There’s frustration and anger,” Woodard said. “A parent called 9-1-1 and police raided a school library. We are very concerned about this.”

Woodard confirmed to the WFAA that the 9-1-1 incident happened at a school in North Texas. Woodard points out that each district has a process for challenging the books. But many are unaware of the process by which books are approved.

The school board sets guidelines for relevance, and librarians use this guideline to review books.

“We have parents who want to dictate what everyone’s kid reads,” Woodard said.

Woodard told the WFAA that librarians are responsible for finding the materials best suited to the district and school they serve.

“They’re mostly concerned about serving the kids in front of them,” she said.

The state, or Texas Education Agency, has no direct role in the library book review process. But the Texas Education Agency offered recommendations in April.

RELATED: New Texas Education Agency School Library Standards Urge Greater Scrutiny, Parent Input

In the recommendations, TEA reminds districts that carrying material deemed inappropriate can be criminal. In this case, Texas Penal Code 43.24, which is the sale, distribution, or display of material harmful to a minor.

The TEA also recommends that districts set up a committee when a parent files a book challenge.

TLA created Texans for the Right to Read, a grassroots coalition to give librarians a voice in this censorship debate.

“A school board isn’t supposed to be partisan, but we’re seeing a change in that in some places,” Woodard said.

RELATED: These Are The 10 Most Contested Books In 2021, According To The American Library Association

And dozens of books are in dispute in North Texas.

Ultimately, it becomes a matter of intellectual freedom versus obscenity.

House Rep. Jared Patterson led the charge on sexually explicit books.

“I don’t blame any particular librarian or teacher. I think booksellers should be held accountable for selling this trash,” Patterson told the WFAA last week.

Patterson told the WFAA that he and his staff sent letters asking school districts in Texas to pledge not to do business with certain book sellers. Thirty districts have signed the pledge.

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