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Ozark-Dale library board makes minor policy changes

The children’s section will now extend to age 13, and stickers on young adult books will denote suggested age ranges.

Residents pack the Ozark Dale County Library for a board meeting over what to do about Mayor Mark Blankenship's request to move all LGBTQ books to the adult section—or risk losing funding. (ADAM KAMERER/SUBMITTED)

Two weeks ago, the Ozark-Dale County Public Library board hosted a contentious special called meeting over how the library should determine the appropriateness of content for young adults.

The situation led to some minor policy changes Tuesday at the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

The changes will now make the young adult section for teens 14- to 18-years of age. It had previously been ages 12-18. The children’s section will now extend to age 13.

Additionally, stickers on the spines of the books will further separate the books into two age groups based on publisher/author recommended age range. The two age groups will be 14 and 15, and 16-18. The stickers will not advise on content, as the library board said “this can be subjective.”

Also, an advisory sign will be “prominently displayed” in the section, warning parents that “some books may contain content that you feel is not suitable for your child” advising parents to “please monitor your child’s book selection and see a Librarian if you have any questions
or concerns.”

The policy changes come after Mayor Mark Blankenship threatened to push defunding the library if the board did not move all LGBTQ books out of the young adult section—he specifically asked for the books to be entirely removed from the library. 

Ozark is just one hotspot in the statewide battle over content in books targeted toward minors—mostly those targeted at teens ages 12-17. 

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There have been similar attempts to move books in Auburn, North Shelby County, Mobile, Fairhope and Prattville, where the group “Clean Up Prattville” has become “Clean Up Alabama,” with plans to address what they see as inappropriate content on a statewide level.

The Ozark-Dale library board response stops short of how the Prattville Library responded—the board chose to change its “unattended minor” policy to extend to minors up to age 15. It had previously been set at age 12.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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