Hempfield Area School District begins first part of new book policy

HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. — After a heated meeting with the community last week, the Hempfield Area School Board approved new guidelines for the district when it comes to buying books for the libraries in each school.

On Saturday, the first lists were posted on the district website.

The lists are separated by school, some schools’ lists are more than 45 pages long.

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Under the new guidelines, parents have 30 days to submit a form if they want to challenge any of the books from being purchased.

“It’s unfortunate what’s happening,” said Amy Anderson, the CEO of the Allegheny County Library Association.

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She said while public libraries, like hers, and school libraries have to fulfill different needs, they have the same mission.

“Our job is to provide information,” Anderson said. “It’s not our job to judge what that information is. If someone is seeking out some sort of information whether it is to learn about themselves, to learn about others, that is what we’re here to do. We’re here to provide that information without judgment, without bias.”

Anderson said she hasn’t seen much desire to ban books from libraries in Allegheny County public libraries, but they do have a form similar to Hempfield Area Schools to challenge books once they’re purchased.

“It really allows the conversation to happen with, ‘Is this book appropriate for the department it’s in? Should it belong there, should it belong somewhere else?’” Anderson said.

On Hempfield’s form, parents have to give their name, address, the school library, and the book they’re challenging, as well as specific parts of the book they feel do not align with the school policy. Then the district would review the book and the submitted challenge.

School officials declined our request for an interview about the new process.

The superintendent told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek they have not received any forms since the lists were posted on Saturday. She also said those forms can be submitted once the books are on the shelves as well.

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