Library board focus on 2024 business


October 26, 2023

DAYTON-The Columbia County Rural Library District Board began the 2024 budget review, the collection development and volunteer policies; and heard from Washington State Librarian Sara Jones during the meeting October 16.

Preliminary 2024 budget review discussions began with briefly going through each budget line. A special budget meeting is scheduled for November 8. No significant concern was brought up during the review. "Overall, we are in fine shape," said Chairman Jay Ball.

Chapters One and Two of the Collection Development Policy was reviewed. Chapter One includes a Statement of Purpose, lays out the responsibilities of the library district and lists a series of a dozen service principles. Chapter Two lists 20 library materials selection criteria.

For Chapter One, Chuck Beleny suggested that a bullet be added to the three currently under the Statement of Purpose that would say that intellectual freedom should be limited in that sexually explicit materials should not be provided for minors. Interim Library Director Ellen Brigham said that the terms would need to be defined. Beleny referenced RCW 9.68. Ball said the definitions must be made in a court of law. Beleny cited the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution which asserts that when state law conflicts with federal law, federal law must prevail. The Washington State Librarian Sara Jones, who was present to give a presentation, said if the materials were considered pornographic, they would be illegal and would never have been published. She mentioned the Miller Test of Obscenity allowed by the ruling of the Supreme Court.

Ball suggested it is best to allow the professionals to do their jobs and not to do it for them. Board Trustee Sharon Mendel reminded the other board members that just because the materials are in the collection, does not mean they have to be viewed.

Trustee Kevin Rust pointed out the Child Internet Protection Act does not allow kids to view similar images online, there should be the same standards for print materials. Brigham said there is no law in place at this time. The matter was tabled and moved on to the next sections on organization responsibility and service principles. No suggestions were made or discussed.

For Chapter Two on the Selection Criteria of Library Materials, Karin Spann suggested a minor edit to clarify the wording of one of the points.

Kevin Rust asked the Board to consider reviewing another library district's collection policy that he believes would be of help when they are reviewing theirs. Ball recommended it for next month's agenda which would give time to read through the information. In addition, they will review Chapter Three on Collection Areas which spans several pages.

The main discussion on the Volunteer Policy covered background checks including for one-time volunteers for events involving children and vulnerable adults. Ball suggested a review on what other organizations do and revisit it.

The Washington State Librarian Sara Jones presented on her role to support libraries through book challenges. She spoke about public concerns regarding the library collection and using the reconsideration of library materials form in the redress process. She also provided to the Board a statement by the Association for Rural and Small Libraries that she said is like the Freedom to Read Statement from the American Library Association.

Another document she gave them was on the importance of respecting the librarian's profession. "It's really important, I think that we honor the reason people become librarians and the education and resources that they get to become professional librarians–it's a two-year program...fundamentally it helps us to understand our community, it helps us understand choosing materials for the community that is in a broad perspective–making sure it is a broad selection of all types of materials for all types of people in our community."

Chairman Ball spoke about consulting with Jones to hire a permanent librarian. Currently Librarian Ellen Brigham is in an interim position until the end of year.

Ball asked about ways to avoid petitions like the one attempted to dissolve the library district. Jones answered that the Office of the Secretary of State is working to raise the required signatures of registered voters for a petition to make it to the ballot. Another effort is to push for legislation to change the way the law stands about not including registered voters of annexed cities for the dissolution of library districts.

This was the first meeting after Court Commissioner Julie Karl ruled that it was unlawful for the petition to dissolve the library district to be placed on the November 7 ballot.

-File photo

About 40 were in attendance both online and in-person. Many comments were heard by the Board.


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