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Salem-South Lyon District Library board rejects attempt to remove books

A challenge that sought to remove more than a dozen books from a local library has been rejected.

A Nov. 29th meeting of the Salem-South Lyon District Library board brought out more than 150 residents eager to discuss the fate of 16 books that had been challenged as being inappropriate.

15 of the 16 books had LGBTQ themes or characters, and the challenge arose out of Pride Month displays in the teen section this past June.

Eight of those opposed to the books spoke at the Oct. 24 meeting of the library board, demanding the books be removed immediately after Library Director Paulina Poplawska and a material reviews committee declined a formal request to do so.

At the Nov. 29th meeting, Hometownlife.com reports that despite differences of opinion between the attendees, the meeting was described as “respectful” by both sides.

One of those who initially requested the books be removed, Tim Ryan, said he was disappointed in the board’s nearly unanimous decision to keep the books, saying those objecting to the books were misunderstood.

“There was a big turnout from the LGBTQ community and many of them had the notion we were against books with LGBTQ content, where our real issue is with sexually explicit books in the teen collection in the library,” Ryan told the paper. “It’s not explicitly an LGBTQ issue. Any teen book with any type of characters with sexually explicit content is not appropriate for teenagers.”

Library board members voted on each challenged book and voted to keep them all available to teens based on whether it was determined to have obscene content that violates “contemporary community standards,” while the work as a whole must also be determined to have “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

“We made a decision in compliance with the First Amendment, U.S. code and Michigan law,” said Library Board Vice President Linda Hamilton. “We didn’t make a personal decision on whether we will read (these books) or let our kids read them….There may be book challenges, but the board, staff, and community can see we have a good process to deal with it.”

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