As citizens across the state continue fighting to protect children from exposure to pornographic materials, officials at one Texas library are now facing a lawsuit for moving explicit children’s books to the adult section.

Earlier this year, seven Llano County residents filed a lawsuit 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.

Although the defendants claim they only moved the books and deny discarding any based on content, 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.

Additionally, the lawsuit accused Llano County library employees of removing citizens’ access to more than 17,000 online books after switching from ebook provider OverDrive to Bibliotheca. The lawsuit alleges officials changed providers to “censor and ban” access to two specific books because they “disagree with the ideas within them.” However, Llano County Library System Director Amber Milum disputed this claim and pointed to the number of books included in Bibliotheca’s catalog.

“There is no conceivable violation of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights when they remain able to check out or read online each of the books that they falsely claim they have been ‘denied their right to access,’” said Milum. “Nor can the plaintiffs show ‘irreparable harm’ when they can access each of the disputed books through the Llano County library system, and when they have been given access to a far greater collection of online books than they enjoyed under the OverDrive regime.”

Milum also refuted the accusation that library employees removed books from the general collection because of content, instead claiming the books were discarded 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.”

Later this month, the case will have its first hearing before U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, an Obama appointee with a history of blocking conservative legislation, to decide if Llano County must move the explicit books back to the children’s section and continue exposing children to pornographic materials.

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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