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The Public Library Serves All People; The Collection Reflects That

Public school library books are coming under increased scrutiny by school board, parent and citizen groups in southwest Missouri and across the country.   

It’s important to know that school libraries and public libraries have different objectives and purposes, so challenges to, and use of, materials in the curriculum are different than book challenges in public libraries.

Now seems like a good time to explain how your Springfield-Greene County Library District addresses those questions.  

The Library takes everyone’s feedback seriously. Patrons freely talk to us about their likes and dislikes on an informal basis. Like most public libraries, we also provide a formal procedure to question an item – a “Request for Reconsideration of Library Materials” – available from library staff. It is studied by a committee of librarians and the Library director, who sends a written response within four to six weeks.

 These formal requests about a variety of materials and formats have remained steady, about a dozen a year districtwide.    

The broader view: The Library’s tenets express our role in the community. They include:

The library district selects materials to provide a broad, popular and relevant collection, while being good stewards of the community’s tax dollars. Materials are selected representing different points of view, including political, social or religious views that might be controversial or objectionable to some. Selection of materials by the Library does not constitute endorsement of the materials’ content or views expressed.

At the heart of these discussions: children and teens. We trust families. We respect the right of families to make their own decisions regarding what materials their children use. And we exist to help each family find what’s appropriate for them.

Kathleen O'Dell is community relations director for the Springfield-Greene County Library District. She can be reached at kathleeno@thelibrary.org.

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