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Three of seven library board seats up for grabs in Prattville

Three of the seven board members that have been serving during a tumultuous time for the library have now resigned.

Over the past nine months, the Prattville library has served as a battleground over the classification of LGBTQ books.

Throughout that time, the Prattville Library Board has held staunchly to its review processes, and rebuffed attempts to surrender control of content curation to city and county governments.

But three of the seven board members that have been serving during the tumultuous time have now resigned.

Stacey Lewis, a city appointee, resigned in September, and the library board has now suggested a replacement to the city.

Tuesday, the Autauga County Commission accepted the resignation of Steve Burton and Sandra Harvey. Burton’s resignation is effective retroactively to Nov. 4, while Harvey will continue to serve through the end of the year.

In years past, the library board would nominate appointees, and while the city and county have to ultimately make the decision, that has been a mere formality.

But that was at a time when interest in serving on the library board was minimal at best, and the position was noncontroversial.

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One of the appointments by the commission will be only to a one-year term, as the position rotates year-by-year between the city and county. The other two seats are four-year terms.

According to the job description provided by the Autauga-Prattville Public Library, it is a board member’s responsibility to “advocate for the library in the community, to establish policies, determine budget, conduct public relations and plan for the future of the library.”

The citizen group Clean Up Prattville has urged elected officials to replace library board members with citizens sympathetic to their argument that LGBTQ books and some other books containing sexual content be moved to the adult section.

So far, the Prattville library board has upheld the decisions of review committees, who have largely found that books challenged by Clean Up Prattville belong in their current locations. However, the reviews have focused on the younger-skewing books which do not contain sexually explicit content, but LGBTQ content.

At its Thursday meeting last week, the board approved the relocation of “Red Hood” a twist on the classic fable with sexually explicit language throughout. The language of the book more directly tackles the classic theme of predatory behavior.

Although “Red Hood” is the first book moved by the library board via the relocation process, the library has already moved all 11 challenged Sarah J. Maas books to a new category it created months ago for “new adults” (ages 18-25). These books were among the most sexually explicit challenged by Clean Up Prattville.

There have been 48 challenges filed, so the 12 books moved to the adult section represent 25 percent of the challenged books being moved. Only 14 have made it fully through the library’s reconsideration process, meaning the library board has not weighed in in 34 of the challenges (including the Sarah J. Maas books).

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

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