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Prattville library pulls 60 books for review based on Clean Up Alabama list

Interim director Tammy Bear told APR the books have not been removed from the collection, but have been temporarily taken off the catalog.

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It’s been nearly a year since the Autauga-Prattville Public Library board reviewed the children’s book “Bye Bye Binary” and decided that it belonged in the children’s section, a decision meant to hold for five years under policy past and present.

But patrons searching for the book today won’t find it as part of the APPL catalog—and there’s more than 50 others missing as well.

“While (Prattville library board chair) Ray Boles is busy reassuring us all that no one is removing books, over 58 books have been pulled from the shelves,” said Sam Olson, a founder of Read Freely Prattville. “Interestingly, ‘Red: A crayon’s story,’ is among them, despite the fact that it was already reviewed within the last year and the board’s decision was supposed to stand for five years.”

Interim director Tammy Bear told APR Monday that the books have not been removed from the collection, but have been temporarily taken off the catalog because they are under review. Bear declined to comment on whether the library or patrons initiated the review, directing those questions to the board. Boles refuses to talk to APR, calling the site “fake news.”

Bear said she pulled some books because she wanted to review them herself, and said there have been more challenges from patrons as well. It’s not clear which missing books are which, or that all of them are under review.

One missing book, John Green’s “Looking for Alaska,” has already been read by current board members who decided not to take action on the book at their February board meeting despite Boles consistently complaining about the book’s description of oral sex. 

Many of the books appear on a list that Boles provided to since-terminated director Andrew Foster to review. Boles has consistently claimed that he only wants to move books with sexual content and not books that merely include LGBTQ representation.

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However, of the books missing from the 113-book list, many of them do not have explicit sexual content.

For example, two juvenile nonfiction books from author Nico Medina have apparently been pulled that are designed to teach kids about Stonewall and the AIDS crisis. 

BookLooks, a favorite site used by book challengers to gather offending excerpts from books, rates “What was Stonewall?” as a 1/5 on its scale—indicating that the book is appropriate for all but “very young children.” The book is typically shelved in the juvenile section at the Prattville library, in the room for adults and minors 12 years and over.

Some of the missing books have been off shelves before Foster’s termination, as they are going through the official reconsideration process. These books include: “Different Kinds of Fruit,” two “Heartstopper” graphic novels, “L8R G8R,” “Relish: My life in the kitchen,” “Forever,” “Forbidden,” and more.

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

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