HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The recent appointments of two Hanover County Board of Supervisors members to a regional library board is sparking concerns about whether book removals are in the future for public libraries in the area.
The Hanover County Board of Supervisors recently appointed two of the board’s members, Bob Johnson and Christy Schumacher, to the Pamunkey Regional Library Board.
The Pamunkey Regional Library Board consists of ten people who oversee libraries across Central Virginia.
Hanover County has four spots on the regional library board. Goochland, King William and King and Queen Counties also have spots on the board.
Some community members are now concerned that the new members will pursue changes that could lead to books being removed from libraries. This is due to the fact that at least one of the nominees has been vocal about how to challenge library books.
Schumacher previously gave the Hanover Republican Committee a presentation in May which showed community members how to flag books for reconsideration from public library shelves and how to request books that line up with your personal values.
The Hanover Republican Committee also endorsed both Johnson and Schumacher as nominees for the library committee.
Jack Dyer, the chair of the Hanover Republican Committee, said that the committee does not want to ban books from libraries, but instead wants to request that certain books are moved to their own section away from children and young adults.
“We got accused of wanting to ban books, censor books, burn books,” Dyer said. “We never implied that.”
The Hanover Republican Committee did not provide any titles of books they took issue with.
However, Patty Franz, a former supervising librarian for the Pamunkey Regional Library System, says the function of the library board of trustees is to manage the budget, not deal with operations, and that library staff should decide where books go on shelves.
“I’m picking out books for my kids. My grandkids. And other parents and grandparents should be doing the same,” Franz said. “And so, when you say inappropriate, the library staff has decided which books should be in which sections.”
Dr. Rachel Levy, who lives in Hanover County, referenced a Facebook post that the Hanover Republican Committee made on June 15. The post congratulated the Hanover County school board after a vote to revise the Library Materials Review policy and remove 19 books from school libraries. “Let’s now tackle our Pamunkey Regional Public Library system!!” the post said.
Levy and Franz are concerned that Johnson and Schumacher’s appointments could tilt the library board toward book removals.
“Well, we don’t want them to be in this section, and then– well– we don’t want them to be out at all. We want them behind the counter and then we want them removed altogether,” Levy said. “It’s just a slippery slope–this path to censorship and book banning.”
“I believe very firmly that this is going to be a problem,” Franz said. “I believe that the board of trustees, that the library, will attempt to overstep their bounds and do the jobs of the librarians. And it’s the jobs of the librarians to choose what materials go in libraries not the board of trustees, not any of the counties, not the board of supervisors.”