Policy changes coming to Ozark Dale County Library

Though new procedures will be in place, no books will be removed from the library.
Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 6:52 PM CDT
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DALE COUNTY, Ala. (WTVY) - Changes are being made to the policies implemented at the Ozark Dale County Library.

Due to a divide among the community regarding content in the young adults section of ODCL, the library board has decided to make some changes to save their librarians and staff from legal trouble.

The first change is the target age group for the young adults section, reducing the minimum age from 12 to 14.

“We are going to move some of the books from the young adults section to the childrens section, so that section will go up to the age of 13,” said Vice-Chairman Michael Cairns. “The proposed change is also to add a content warning sign to the entry of the young adults section. ‘Parents, please be advised some books may contain content that you feel is not suitable for your child.’”

The library is reverting back to the old guidelines regarding unattended children in the library, meaning library visitors 13 and younger must have a parent, legal guardian or supervision of someone 19 years old or older with them.

Library Chairman Liz Delaney says the previous Unattended Childs policy was for 10 years old during the peak of the pandemic, so kids could use the internet if they had to, but says the library will bump it back up.

The library will implement a software in their check out system that can block unwanted content from being distributed to children who are not allowed to view certain content.

The new youth library card designations are as follows:

  • Juvenile (0-13): kids will only have access to the children’s section.
  • Juvenile (0-13) YA Access: kids can access books in Children’s and Young Adults section.
  • Juvenile (0-13) Full Access: No checkout restrictions.
  • Young Adult (14-18): kids can access books in Children’s and Young Adults section.
  • Young Adult (14-18) Full Access: No checkout restrictions.

Finally, the board has implemented a three person committee to review reconsideration requests in the library.

“They will read the books; they will determine whether or not it can stay where it is or for it to be moved to another section,” said Delaney.

The library board says these changes are supposed to make things easier for parents, but say it is still up to them to maintain their kid’s behaviors.

“We can’t be parents to everyone else’s children. You have to teach your child the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, or whatever your personal beliefs are,” said Cairns. “We can’t watch them all the time, and it is sad that we had to change our policies to make parents understand that they are ultimately responsible for what their kids do even when they are not around.”

All members 18 or under library card must apply with an adult present, and all minor library cards will be blocked until a parent signs a release form with the child’s age and content their child is allowed to check out.

The library will be closed Sept. 21 for the team to work on the software and start stickering the target age group on the spine of young adult groups.

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