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Texas Residents Sue Library Board for Banning Books in Closed Meetings

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If you follow Kelly Jensen’s weekly Censorship News Roundup, you’ll likely recognize the Llano County library board. They’ve been mentioned in several roundups for “auditing” the library of controversial books, removing In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak from the shelves among other titles, closing their library board meetings to the public, and firing the library director in recent months.

Seven residents of Llano County are now suing the library board as well as the county judge, commissioners, and library systems director for violating their First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment rights by banning books, blocking access to digital titles, and making these decisions behind closed doors without public input.

A library board member emailed the County Judge in November with a list of books the system had that were on Representative Matt Krause’s 850 book list of “inappropriate” materials. It’s worth noting not only that Krause’s list holds no legal sway and was haphazardly put together, but also that it was aimed at school libraries, not public ones.

The judge advised the board to pull from the shelves “all books that depict any type of sexual activity or questionable nudity.”

The lawsuit reads, “When government actors target public library books because they disagree with and intend to suppress the ideas contained within them, it jeopardizes the freedoms of everyone.”

They are demanding that the removed books are put back on shelves and that resident access is returned for OverDrive, the digital distributor the library system uses.

Read more about this story at The Texas Tribune.

Find more news and stories of interest from the book world in Breaking in Books.