JONESBORO — David Eckert, director of the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library, announced late Friday that the library will move sex education books for children to the parent/teacher section in the Children’s Library.
“We have made the decision to move the sex education books intended for children to the parent/teacher section within the Children’s Library. This section contains educational resources for caregivers to help with school work, learning disabilities, and those who homeschool their children. “One of the titles being moved to this section is ‘It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex, Gender, and Sexual Health’ by Robie H. Harris.”
He said books already moved are:
“You be You: The Kid’s Guide to Gender, Sexuality, and Family” by Jonathan Branfman.
“Why Boys & Girls are Different” by Carol Greene.
“Talking to Your Kids About Sex: From Toddlers to Preteens” by Lauri Berkenkamp
“Moving forward, the library will be taking a look at other books in our collection,” Eckert said on the library’s Facebook page.
“We have been listening to our community and we appreciate the feedback,” he added.
Brandi Hodges, the library’s public information officer, said Monday a list of books that will be moved will be released later this week.
The library has been embroiled in controversy sense a display in June celebrating Gay Pride Month. Several parents objected to the content of some books in the exhibit. At the Oct. 11 meeting of the library boards about 20 people stood and gave public comments defending and objecting to the books.
Board member Mark Nichols made three motions to move three book, but his motion died from a lack of a second.
On Monday, Nichols responded to the move via email with caution.
“It is simply too early to tell if the concerns of area parents will be resolved or not. Right now, only one book requested by parents to be moved has been moved,” he said. “That particular book, ‘It’s Perfectly Normal’ was mixed in with other children’s books and had graphic pictures of adults in a variety of sexual positions, pictures of children masturbating, and instructions on how to have anal sex, which the CDC recognizes increases cancer risk dramatically.
“Area parents are losing confidence in our library because this book never should have been where children could just accidentally pull it off the shelf in the first place … I’m certainly glad library staff moved this particular book to a different location, but it is also clear we have more work to do as a library.”
Nichols addressed Eckert’s releasing a list this week of books to be moved.
“Director David Eckert has advised that they will be disclosing the list of additional books that will be moved this week,” Nichols said. “I know many area parents are encouraged to hear the library will begin listening to parental input, since parental input is really what we should be listening to for the children’s area. I am sure area parents will continue to be watchfully waiting to see if our library does become a safer place for children to freely explore.”
Craighead County Judge Marvin Day applauded Eckert’s decision to move books to the parent/teacher area.
“I’m glad David is listening to the board and the public,” Day said. “I’m appreciative of it.”
One of Day’s nominee, Whitney Hicks, for the library board sputtered at the Craighead County Quorum Court meeting on Oct. 11 when the motion to appoint her failed to get a second. Day’s other nominee, Michael Watkins of Bono, was approved by the quorum court.
Day said he’s working on the open board seat and has been talking to people about it.
“I had a talk with David Eckert as recently as Friday,” Mayor Harold Copenhaver said Monday, “and I believe they are taking steps to address their processes, as evidenced by Friday’s announcement.
“While as mayor I do not have oversight of library operations, I do feel the responsibility to convey concerns I hear and to help encourage the library to adopt policies that best serve all residents of Jonesboro.”
Eckert was out of the office on Monday and unavailable for comment.