SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — At the end of the library board meeting in Sumner County on Wednesday, Oct. 18, Beverly Hyde officially decided to step down as a board member.
“This is my last meeting,” she said. “I tell you that with no animosity.”
For the last several weeks, she and other board members have been discussing a change to the library system’s collection policy.
“There’s some things in here I can’t live with,” Hyde said at that meeting. “I’m just going to be honest.
After numerous book challenges, it was proposed the library system put together a collection and development and management policy about which library collections are developed and how they are maintained.
Vice Chair Joanna Daniels presented a draft of the proposed policy at their September meeting.
“I know that people don’t like to be wordy, but in this day and age I think that if we are as precise and as clear as possible, it will make for things to go smoother,” she said.
Daniels presented a draft of the proposed policy at their September meeting.
A portion of the policy details how they will protect children from harmful and sexually explicit material in the library, citing a state law regarding the display for sale or rental materials to minors.
That portion also defined in graphic detail the terms sex act or sexual activity, something that brought up debate among library board members.
“This is extremely detailed in some areas, and that right there, I would be embarrassed as a trustee,” said Hyde.
Hyde and Chair Jackie Wilbur had concerns about having the details of sexual activity written out and available for anyone, especially children to see.
“If they read this, they might as well check out the book that is graphic,” said Wilbur.
However, other members disagreed, feeling this needed to be explained.
“I think this is to protect further damage of books that do have things that are so much more graphic than the scientific words,” said Erika Grammer. “This is not as graphic.”
Sarah Squires is the chair of Right to Read Sumner and questions the lasting impacts this policy could bring if approved.
“Even as descriptive as it is, it leaves a lot of ambiguity because if it doesn’t speak specifically to one of the acts that’s outlined, could the librarians still need to remove it for some reason?” she asked.
Right to Read Sumner also released a statement explaining how this policy could impact the first amendment:
“Freedom of speech is not only freedom of the author, but its freedom of the community to consume information,” said Squires.
With a final vote coming in a few weeks, a decision will be made with one less person voting.
“Í just can’t do that,” said Hyde. “I’m sorry; it goes against my standards.”
The board is scheduled to officially vote on the policy change at their next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 3:30 p.m.
The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the Sumner County Administration Building in room 112 in Gallatin.