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Amidst book challenges, Gadsden Public Library could lose minor funding source

The Etowah County GOP’s Amy Minton is driving challenges and opposing library funding over “inappropriate materials” in books for minors.

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Amy Dozier Minton, secretary of the Etowah County GOP, wrote the resolution that the Republican group unanimously backed in November opposing “inappropriate materials” in books for minors, including “gender ideology.”

Minton is also the driving force behind book challenges at the Gadsden Public Library, challenging 30 books already with around 40 more to come. 

And on Nov. 30, State Rep. Mack Butler, R-Gadsden, appointed Minton to the Etowah County Library Committee that distributes some additional funding to public and school libraries within the state.

Minton is just one of four members on that committee, but she told APR Friday that she does not intend to fund libraries that use taxpayer funds to support the American Library Association, or have such “inappropriate” books on their shelves.

If a majority of the committee were to agree with Minton’s line of thinking, the Gadsden library’s funding would be cut as the situation currently stands—although the library is not an institutional member of the ALA, director Craig Scott currently has his individual ALA dues covered in the library budget.

The library also still has books that Minton, at least, would find inappropriate as the library works toward updating its reconsideration of materials policy to handle the influx of challenges.

According to Scott, the library expects about $28,000 every year from the library committee, a relatively small percentage of its overall budget. The library receives the bulk of its funding from the city at approximately $1.3 million, plus about $80,000 in state aid from the Alabama Public Library Service.

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Still, every dollar helps, Scott said, and said he would be willing to pay his own ALA dues.

Despite this tensions, both Minton and Scott told APR they have actually become friends despite their differences of opinion.

“I will say this—every librarian I have known in my life has been wonderful,” Minton said. “And 85 percent of what our libraries do just make me cry. The Gadsden Public Library has the Rainbow Cafe which helps kids with disabilities get to work and attend college. It’s a warming center for the homeless. This is why I’m saying this is not a personal thing at all.”

Although Minton and the Etowah County GOP have declared issues with sexual content in books in sections for minors, Minton also didn’t shy away from opposing gender ideology in such books.

“These books only confuse kids,” Minton said. “Some kids want to be a pirate, but do we let them poke out their eye or cut off their leg? I don’t think children are ready to be exposed to that type of content.”

According to Minton, she has challenged the following 30 books:

  • The Mirror Season (see specifically page 255)
  • “Some Assembly required: the not-so-secret Life of a Transgender Teen.”
  • Can’t Take That Away
  • Being Jazz: My Life as a transgender teen.
  • My Maddy
  • Julian Is a Mermaid
  • George (Melissa)
  • The Other Boy
  • Jack (Not Jackie)
  • Girl Mans Up
  • Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
  • Symptoms of Being Human
  • Luna
  • The Miseducation of Cameron Post
  • This is our Rainbow: 16 Stories of her, him, them and us
  • Straight Talk about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
  • Best Liars in Riverview
  • Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix
  • One True Wish
  • Dear Mothman
  • The Dress and the Dressmaker
  • Perfect on Paper
  • Frankie & Bug
  • Joy, to the World
  • Lily and Dunkin
  • Being Transgender
  • Jess, Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity
  • LGBTQ+ athletes claim the Field: Striving for Equality
  • The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
  • Looking for Alaska

Scott said he is working to fill out his library board so they can take up the business of creating the new committee to review these books. The committee will include a teacher, a parent, a professional, a librarian from outside the Gadsden library and a librarian from within the Garden library but from a separate department.

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The challenger could still appeal the committee’s decision up to the library board.

Scott said these challenges are the first he’s had since he came to the library in 2007, as is the case with many libraries dealing with such challenges across the state. But he said the library is always making decisions on content and takes protecting kids seriously.

“We’ve been protecting children—sometimes the other side thinks we’re pornographers,” Scott said. “We’ve been making decisions where some think we haven’t been making decisions. We have been a safe haven for kids and we protect kids every day; I get a little frustrated when it comes to accusations of libraries not protecting children.”

In addition to serving as director of the Gadsden Public Library, Scott is also the president-elect of the American Library Association.

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

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