Following a ruling from federal Judge Robert Pitman, the Llano County Commissioners Court voted to keep the county’s library open and return explicit books to the shelves.

Seven Llano County residents filed a lawsuit in October 2022 against the county commissioner, county judge, library systems director, and several library board members, accusing the local officials of censorship. The plaintiffs alleged that library employees violated citizens’ First and 14th Amendment rights after moving explicit books from the children’s section to the adult section.

The removed books included “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teenager” and “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent,” which feature radical gender ideology and critical race theory.

The lawsuit accused library employees of restricting public access to certain materials by taking books off shelves, limiting ebook access, and pausing new book orders. The plaintiffs also accused Llano County officials of dissolving the previous library board and replacing the members with individuals in favor of removing explicit books.

Llano County Library System Director Amber Milum refuted the accusation that library employees removed books from the general collection because of content, instead claiming she discarded the books following routine “weeding” practices, where libraries discard less popular books for new acquisitions.

“My decision to weed the six books had nothing to do with the viewpoints or content expressed in any of those books,” said Milum. “I would have weeded each of those six books regardless of the viewpoints or content expressed in those books, and I would have done so even if no one in the community had ever complained about them. More importantly, the library system declined to remove 41 books that had been opposed by members of the community—and they declined to take this step because those books did not meet the library’s criteria for weeding.”

Last month, Pitman, a U.S. District Court judge, ordered the Llano County Library System to return all of the removed books within 24 hours and barred the county from taking any more books off the shelves until the lawsuit ends.

Llano County appealed Pitman’s ruling.

The court held a special meeting Thursday regarding “the continued employment and/or status of the Llano County Library System Employees and the feasibility of the use of the library premises by the public.”

In a unanimous vote, the commissioners court agreed to keep the county’s libraries open and introduce the explicit books back into circulation instead of closing the libraries until receiving further guidance from the court system.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Moss said the court wants to focus on the lawsuit.

“The library will remain open,” said Moss. “We will try this in the courts, not through social media or through news media.”

The next step in the case is a court hearing on April 27, where the defendants may face sanctions for failing to appear for depositions.

Katy Marshall

Katy graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.