Ten library books were taken off the shelves from the public library due to citizen's complaint.
The library books were taken off the shelves following comments from Derrek Arce at the city board meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Arce said he was in the library recently with his family when he found some of the books in the children's section.
"It came to my attention the other day when visiting a library with my kids, that there are many books there that incur or encourage a deviant sexual lifestyle for children as well as incredible self harm," Arce said during the city board meeting.
Arce listed several books he found questionable including "I am Jazz," by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings; "I was Born for This," by Alice Oseman; "May the Best Man Win" by Z.R. Ellor and "This Book is Gay" by Juno Dawson. Arce said the books describe graphic content as well as giving advice on how to argue with Christians, Jews and Muslims as well as denigrating them.
Directors Betsy Blair, Lesa Rissler, Carol Smiley and Ken Wiles each commented on Arce's words prompting City Administrator Phillip Patterson to investigate the matter.
When Patterson went about removing the books, he found out that Arce had checked them out himself to prevent anyone else from checking them out. Patterson asked Arce to drop the books off at his office which he did. Arce and Patterson both spoke about the situation concerning the books.
Arce said he started hearing about some books he considered questionable late last summer or early fall. A few weeks earlier, Arce was at the library with his daughter who saw one of the books in question, Arce said.
After his daughter found the book Arce went to look for it and others, he said.
"My wife had seen one about drag queens in the children's section," Arce said. "My daughter saw one (called) 'This Book is Gay' in the young adult section where she was."
Arce said he only had about 10 minutes when he went to look for more books and found the books Arce mentioned at the city board meeting as well as several others he deemed questionable.
The library has not done anything about this, Arce said. He did say when he spoke to some people, the library had someone employed up until the middle of last year who was pretty vocal and supportive of LGBQT issues.
Arce does not blame Library Manager Stephanie Freedle for the books and said he was careful in what he said during his comments at the city board meeting, he said. For now, Arce said Patterson has the books now and that the city will evaluate them.
"I'd say it's good," Arce said. "I think there needs to be a scrub of some of the kid's books. I think that would be a good next step."
The earliest book that Patterson found has been on the library's shelves prior to 2013, he said. All but one book were brought into the library prior to July of 2022, Patterson said.
A total of 10 books were removed from the library pending review, Patterson said. To Patterson's knowledge the books were not placed in the children's section but probably the young adult or youth sections, he said.
The 10 books were checked out a total of 38 times with some being checked out four times, one 10 times, one three and one six, Patterson said.
Patterson said he did a little research and found Senate Bill 81 (SB81) was filed at the Arkansas legislature. SB81 concerns amending the law in regards to harmful and obscene materials loaned by a library, according to the Arkansas State Legislature website.
The bill passed in the Arkansas Senate on Feb. 22 with 27 senators voting for the bill, six voting against the bill and two senators who did not vote, the website states.
Patterson said the bill will likely have a provision for dealing with the removal of any questionable material. Based on SB81, if a library patron deemed a piece of material at the library as questionable they would meet with the librarian and present their concerns, Patterson said.
The librarian would establish a committee of library personnel who have knowledge in that field, Patterson said. If the book is not removed the requester would have the right to file an appeal with the city board, Patterson said.
"Based on the same sort of statutory requirements in SB 81 reviewed the same way," Patterson said. "It has to be reviewed in its entirety."
Patterson also said he did a search of the Family Council list of books that are supposedly pro alternative life style or sexual nature directed at kids.
"I found one additional book at the library that was on the list," Patterson said. "And I pulled that book also."
Of the list that Arce provided them only one of them was on the Family Council list. The book in question is "L8r g8r" by Lauren Myracle, according to familycouncil.org.