ORANGE CITY — Residents in northwest Iowa are fighting over a petition that calls on the public library to separate material dealing with LGBTQ issues and to request public input before acquiring such material. Some expressed support for the Orange City Public Library’s integration of LGBTQ materials at a library board meeting Tuesday.
“There are gay kids, there are (transgender) kids in this town, and seeing their faces and seeing their lives mirrored in some of the books here means everything,” said Mike Goll, a resident.
But others shared reservations.
The petition was started by Terry Chi, an assistant psychology professor at Northwestern College, a liberal arts school in Orange City. The petition, which gathered more than 340 signatures in nine days, calls for labeling and separating materials involving LGBTQ issues within the library and providing a content rating service to help inform patrons’ decisions.
The petition also asks the library to hold public discussions before new materials on LGBTQ topics are acquired.
“We’re not asking for banning because I know that would just sink our ship,” Chi said. “We’re asking for transparency in the process and some public conversation before new materials are acquired.”
Iowa Library Association President-Elect Dan Chibnall said libraries tend to avoid special labels.
“We believe people should have access to as much material as possible, and it’s up to them as a community to decide what they should read and what they should and should not read with their families,” he said.
Officials at the Orange City Public Library have been working with the Iowa Library Association on a solution. The library’s board said its policy committee will review public input and analyze its collection development policy.
The library has adopted the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states that materials shouldn’t be “proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval” or excluded because of sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.