Those who don’t approve of a certain book in Cranston Public Schools’ libraries, they may soon be able to object through an official format. Librarians in Cranston Public Schools …
Those who don’t approve of a certain book in Cranston Public Schools’ libraries, they may soon be able to object through an official format. Librarians in Cranston Public Schools have created a policy that explains the mission and vision of libraries in Cranston, the procedures of how books are selected and purchased, and what the appeal process is if someone questions a book’s presence on school shelves. The policy goes before the School Committee for a vote in January.
“You see in the news that there are some places where people come into the school and object to a particular book. So, it’s helpful to have a reconsideration policy where we have a procedure if someone objects to a particular book or materials we are utilizing,” said Assistant Superintendent Norma Cole at the School Committee’s Dec. 12 meeting.
The district has not received any complaints, but CPS Librarian Ellen Basso wants to make sure CPS is prepared.
“When all of these challenges started happening in other parts of our state, I wanted to make sure our district was ready for this,” Basso told School Committee members.
Basso explained that the district’s proposed policy is based on the Code of Ethics from the American Library Association (ALA) and the Library Bill of Rights. Basso told School Committee members that she did a lot of research and found samples of how to create a policy and procedures for districts from the ALA. She also referenced other Rhode Island districts’ policies that School Committees approved – such as Westerly Public Schools (WPS). Basso then reviewed the proposed policy with librarians followed by CPS’s administration.
If someone does not approve of a book in the school library, there would be an appeal process in asking for its removal; a request for reconsideration form would be included in the policy. A copy of the proposed policy was not shared with the Cranston Herald at this time. The policy will be available publicly should it be approved.
The Cranston Public School Library Media and Information Technology Program’s mission is to “ensure that all students and staff are effective and ethical users of ideas and information. Our program aims to help students achieve academic excellence through innovative and collaborative instruction. Our goal is to create future-ready citizens who understand the importance of digital citizenship, academic integrity, and a love for the written word.”
Looking at an outside district
Basso said Westerly Public Schools was one of the first districts in the state to have a book challenge. When creating Cranston’s policy, she looked at Westerly’s policy.
In WPS’s procedure for reconsideration of library materials, the principal will request that the concerned party meets with the principal, designees and faculty using the material. If the complainant still finds the material unacceptable after a review of the school’s selection policy, then alternate reading materials will be provided.
WPS’s policy adds that individuals may fill out a request for reconsideration of school library books and district administration will be notified. Within 10 days of the receipt of the completed request, the district’s school library media specialist, assistant superintendent and district library media specialist will appoint a committee to review the material in question. For this meeting, the committee will have completed the following: read the book in its entirety prior to discussion; evaluate the material in light of the Westerly Public Schools Selection policy; reach a decision as to the appropriateness of the material for the school library collection; within 45 school days of appointment, make a written recommendation to retain the material in question or remove it from the collection. Following the committee’s responses, the Superintendent will review the report and inform all involved parties of the decision. If the concerned individual is not in agreement with the committee’s decision an appeal can be made to the Westerly Superintendent within 30 days.
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