The Lafayette Parish library is facing more significant controversy as decisions surrounding book placements and community programs come under scrutiny.

According to The Advocate, the much-anticipated "Lafayette Reads Together" program for early 2024 has been paused, citing challenges in selecting a universally appealing book for the community, Interim Library Director Sarah Monroe announced Monday. As the decade-old program prepares for its 10th year, Monroe highlighted the challenges in maintaining a book that resonates with the entire parish. Rising costs associated with hosting authors and increasing scrutiny of public libraries were also cited as contributing factors.

The exact process of book selection remains undisclosed, but insiders claim that the director appoints a committee for the task. Recent debates have arisen due to the inclusion of swear words in the selected book. With growing attention on materials related to sex and LGBTQ topics in libraries nationwide, the Lafayette Parish library hasn't been exempt from these discussions.

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"Lafayette Reads Together," an initiative supported by the Lafayette Public Library Foundation, gifts participants with a complimentary copy of the chosen book, followed by a series of related events, typically spanning January to March.

Further controversy arose after library staff relocated books on puberty, including topics on menstruation, from the teen section to the adult non-fiction area. Cara Chance, the manager of the North Regional Library, expressed concerns about young readers accessing these books amidst adult-themed materials. Residents, including Amanda Anderson and Lynette Mejia, founder of Lafayette Citizens Against Censorship, are urging for the return of these books to the teen section, highlighting the need for proper reconsideration procedures.

State legislation introduced this year by newly elected Governor Jeff Landry limits the exposure of explicit content to minors. However, Mejia emphasized that the law doesn't mandate relocating entire genres to the adult section. Monroe defended the library's decision, noting that many of these books haven't been borrowed for several years, predominantly by adults. Consequently, they were transferred to the family section, intended for parents.

In a separate turn of events, the library board witnessed a reshuffle, bypassing Vice President James Thomas, the only non-conservative member, in favor of Stephanie Armbruster, a known conservative. Contrary to tradition, Armbruster replaced Thomas despite him having seniority. Parish residents expressed concerns over the board's choices, emphasizing Thomas's experience and questioning the appointment of the relatively inexperienced Daniel Kelly.

The library's recent decisions have clearly stirred emotions within the community, underscoring the importance of transparent and inclusive decision-making processes in public institutions.

See the full story here via The Advocate.

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