In a system in which the government provides for public libraries, the selection and weeding of available books will never be free of politics. In the scenic Texas Hill country, the commissioners of Llano County replaced its library board in 2021 and asked the newbies to do a content review of all books in its three branches.
Twelve books, all for children and young adults, were selected for removal. They include Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent by Isabell Wilkerson, They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group, by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings, and Gary the Goose Has Gas on the Loose.
When these books were removed, seven residents sued claiming that their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendment were violated. On March 30, federal Judge Robert Pitman in a preliminary injunction ordered the Llano County Library System to return the books and not remove any more. He indicated that the removals and close content regulation would not likely pass constitutional muster.
The commission responded by debating the closure of Llano County’s entire library system.
Reasonable objections to ideological extremes can sometimes veer into political frenzy. Llano County, a popular place in deer hunting season, has yet to make it on the map as a hotbed of 1619 activism and Frankfurt School cultural Marxism. As a native Texan named Laura Bush said, “I have found that the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” To be fair, some books are too obscene or deranged to belong in a public library. It would be a shame, however, to pulverize a center of learning out of pique at a judge and a moral panic over a flatulent goose.