When school library books are questioned, contention usually results. Here’s how one district wrote a new chapter in handling parents’ complaints.
Cassandra Barnett has had a hand in selecting thousands of books for the shelves of school libraries in this community, a task she has honed almost to an art form over nearly three decades as a librarian here.
In the light-filled library at Fayetteville High School, where she has worked the past six years, Ms. Barnett has spent hundreds of hours perusing book publishers’ catalogs and professional journals, analyzing multiple abstracts and reviews, and even reading many of the books herself. Her constant aim is to develop a collection that will intrigue, inform, challenge, and entertain the nearly 2,000 students who use the facility.
But last year, when a student’s mother pushed for officials in the 8,700-student Fayetteville school district to remove dozens of books from the stacks for content the parent deemed too sexually explicit or mature for teenagers—content she highlighted using graphic excerpts on her personal Web site—Ms. Barnett and her library colleagues were forced to re-examine their decisions and...
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