On December 29, 2021, the Cozby Library and Community Commons received a citizen request to reconsider the inclusion of the book Gender Queer in its collection. The book is a memoir in graphic novel format by author Maia Kobabe, and has been the subject of much recent attention across the country in discussions regarding books on school and public library shelves.
Following its established process for such requests, the Library conducted a staff review of the request, and responded to the citizen with the results of the review. The citizen requested further review, so the matter was placed on the agenda of the Library Advisory Board’s February 10 regular meeting.
At that meeting, the Board heard from five citizens who appeared in person, including the citizen who submitted the original request. Two citizens expressed their desire for the book to be completely removed. Three citizens expressed their desire for it to remain in the Library’s collection, though two of those three believed the book was better suited for the adult graphic novel section than the teen graphic novel section.
The Board discussed the citizen’s request but was unable to reach a decision at the time. They will revisit the matter at their next regular meeting on March 10. Until the Board reaches a decision, the book will remain in the Library’s collection.
The Library’s stance is that the book satisfies the necessary criteria in its collection development guidelines, and that it should therefore remain in the collection. The Library’s collection development guidelines themselves are subject to approval by the Library Advisory Board as well.
“Libraries have collection development policies for good reason, and Coppell is no different,” says Dennis Quinn, Director of Library Services. “No one set of personal values or beliefs can be the lens through which to develop a collection that is supposed to serve and reflect an entire community, especially one as diverse as Coppell.”
Quinn also notes that the Library’s collection development guidelines are directly aligned with the first two pillars of Coppell’s Vision 2040 strategic plan: perpetuating a learning environment, and fostering an inclusive community fabric.
“We understand there will be items in the collection that some may find disagreeable, either in whole or in part, but we cannot completely prevent this while still doing our job to serve the community as a whole,” Quinn said.
As stated in the collection development guidelines, the Library provides materials to “support learning through all the ages and phases of life, from young children to senior citizens.” In general, the Library encourages parents to accompany their children on Library visits and engage with them about what they’re reading and what they’re interested in learning about.
The request will be revisited at the Board’s next regular meeting, scheduled for March 10.
The Board is also scheduled to meet for a work session next week, which will include training and informational presentations. No action will be taken at this meeting, and the request regarding Gender Queer will not be on the agenda.
Like City Council and all other City boards and commissions, the Library Board includes in every meeting an opportunity for residents to share their input in a public forum. The Library encourages all interested residents to take advantage of this opportunity, and share their experience at the Library, a past or upcoming program, an idea for a Library program, or feedback about how the Library can improve its service to the community.
For more information on how to speak at a public meeting, or to have comments read into the record during that time, residents are invited to contact the Library, or the City Secretary’s office.