Mar 24, 2022 - News

Llano library advisory board decides to meet in private

The exterior of the Kingsland library in Llano County
The Kingsland library in Llano County. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

Conservative-minded communities throughout Texas are plotting to remake their libraries.

Why it matters: The library in Kingsland — as in so many Texas communities — is a key civic space, one where groups of all stripes meet, where kids hang out after school, where residents access, through books, the wider world.

A bench outside the Kingsland library.
A bench outside the Kingsland library in Llano County. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

Between the lines: In February, per an email obtained by Axios, Wallace, the vice chair of the new library board who alerted commissioners about the "pornographic filth" in Llano libraries, wrote that she'd attended a web conference of communities "fighting harmful content ... from all over Texas (Tyler, Victoria, Brady, Fredericksburg, Corpus and many other places) to inform each other about the issues in their respective areas and how they have successfully combated (or are currently combating) and illustrating to each other their methods."

  • The county judge in February wrote the chair and vice chair that "you are not obligated to have a public comment component in your meetings."
  • He said he requested a sheriff deputy attend in case of disruptive behavior.
  • In Llano, meetings of the advisory board are now held in private.

What they're saying: "When we see librarians being forced to violate standards of their professional training, it's a warning sign for what this is, an effort to suppress free speech and the rights of voluntary inquiry," Shirley Robinson, executive director of the Texas Library Association, which represents thousands of librarians statewide, tells Axios.

  • She was speaking, in part, about the termination of a Llano County librarian who says she was fired for refusing to remove books.
  • "We've seen some librarians feel threatened in their jobs. They're concerned about doing their jobs to the best of their professional ability, but might not have taken as firm a stand as this librarian in Llano did so they can keep their jobs," Robinson said.
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