CLN Chair Rachelle Ottosen, and Vice Chair Tom Hanley, discuss policy revisions with fellow trustees on September 16, 2023 in Post Falls, Idaho.

Legal Counsel Suggests Library Policy Needs More Work

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POST FALLS, IDAHO – The Community Library Network (CLN) Board of Trustees held their regular business meeting on Thursday, November 16, 2023, at the Post Falls Library, which was well attended by community residents.

The agenda items of particular interest were related to legal counsel’s review of the Material Selection Policy, and discussions addressing the revision of the Material Withdrawal and Reconsideration Policy, both a primary focus of concerned parents as a method to restore the children’s sections as safe places. According to Kim Bugler, a mother of two from Coeur d’Alene, her children’s freedom to explore and enjoy the library is being robbed by the existence of sexually explicit material that is rampant throughout the shelves, and displays. “Kids shouldn’t bump into such material,” Bugler said during her address to the board.

Another concerned local mom echoed the same sentiment when she told the board that simple, but necessary, steps are needed to keep X-rated material out of children’s reach. “It just makes sense,” Becky said when suggesting a simple warning label for books with sexual content would be helpful. “Parents can be naïve, and trusting, of the children’s section … people may automatically assume the words ‘Children’s Library’ means something free from sexually explicit content.” Additional comments by other locals showed the majority in favor of taking steps to keep objectionable books away from children.

Post Falls resident Amy Lee, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado, says she stopped bringing her children to the Post Falls Library a year ago. Lee explained her family used to explore the library regularly, as she is a homeschooling mom of six children, ranging from high-schoolers to a two-year-old, but stopped when the books her kids selected from the displays were negative, and inappropriate. “It has been over a year since my homeschooling kids have set foot in this library,” Lee told the board. “None of the books on the shelves have been worth the trip.”

Amy Lee of Post Falls addresses the Community Library Network Board of Trustees on November 16, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho.

“The people of Kootenai County support our newly commissioned board as they faithfully represent us in this reclamation of our locally owned and operated library. We affirm that they are, in fact, doing exactly what we elected them to do as they rewrite the Material Selection Policy, and as they sever ties with the American Library Association,” stated Lee.

The legal review on the draft of the revised Material Selection Policy was presented by Colton Boyles of Boyles Law, PLLC. Boyles stated that the revised policy was “a really good start, a good draft,” but that there were some gaps. Ultimately, Boyles recommended the board continue to work on the draft policy to “dial in” language to reduce CLN’s risk. The board agreed by consensus to continue the discussion, including any further modifications to the draft policy, at an upcoming meeting.

Boyles stated the importance of being proactive in addressing policies, such as the Material Selection Policy, since they will likely need to be revamped to comply with anticipated legislative actions in the upcoming session of the Idaho Legislature. Boyles informed the CLN board, and Director Alexa Eccles, that changes to the Material Selection Policy affects multiple other CLN policies that will need to be reviewed and revised simultaneously, including:

  • Computer Use Policy
  • Children in the Library Policy
  • Internet Use Safety Policy
  • Library Card for Minors Policy
  • Library Exhibit Space Policy
  • Social Media and Web Link Policy
Trustee Katie Blank reviews the Material Selection Policy draft at the CLN Board of Trustees meeting November 16, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho.
Chair Rachelle Ottosen and Vice Chair Tom Hanley review drafts of revised policies on November 16, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho
Trustee Tim Plass contemplates legal counsel’s analysis of Material Selection Policy draft on November 16, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho.
Trustee Tom Hanley comments on CLN financial statements on November 16, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho.
Trustee Vanessa Robinson poses question to legal counsel on November 16, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho.
Colton Boyles responds to inquires from the board on November 2, 2023, in Post Falls, Idaho.

The working draft of the Material Selection Policy provides for a separation of polices that govern the procurement of material from the review, and possible removal or relocation, of existing material. This separation led to a draft policy known as the Material Withdrawal and Reconsideration Policy, which trustees worked through during the meeting. Currently, both procurement and reconsideration policies are combined in the Material Selection Policy which was adopted November 4, 2022.

Trustee Vanessa Robinson asked legal counsel to compare the current Material Selection Policy with the draft of the replacement policies to see whether or not the proposed changes would close the loopholes in procuring obscene material in the minor’s collections. Boyles was not prepared to give an in-depth response to Robinson’s inquiry, however, such an analysis is anticipated to be presented before the end of the year.

The CLN Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting at the Post Falls Library on Thursday, November 30, 2023, and is set to convene on Thursday, December 21, 2023, for its regular business meeting, also at the Post Falls Library.