School board cleaning out libraries

They don’t usually say it quite so bluntly.

Books deemed ‘harmful to staff and students’ are being removed from region’s public school libraries

And…”harmful” how? Oh you know…just not the kind of thing the reader would have written. Which reader? Any reader, obviously. If someone says “I don’t like this,” out it goes.

The Waterloo Region District School Board is undertaking a multi-year review of its library collections to identify and remove any texts deemed “harmful to staff and students.”

Graham Shantz, coordinating superintendent in human resources and equity services outlined the ongoing work during Tuesday’s board meeting as part of an overview of the board’s 2021-2022 strategic and operational plan.

“We recognize as our consciousness around equity, oppression work and anti-racist work has grown, we recognize some of the texts in some of the collections that we have are not appropriate at this point,” Shantz said. He explained how the board developed a framework last year for reviewing its collections in elementary and secondary school libraries.

“We’ve done a great job over the years of adding collections that promote the diversity both of our workforce and our students and our community as a broader point, but we haven’t spent the concentrated effort that we need to spend on ensuring that we’re removing inappropriate or texts that are questionable and don’t have the pedagogical frameworks that we need,” Shantz said.

School libraries can’t have all the books there are, of course, so they have to be selective, but I’m not sure screening out every book someone considers “inappropriate” is the right filter to use.

Shantz said the process to edit school libraries will involve educating teachers about the board’s framework so they can consider removing texts from their classroom collections.

In the new and better tomorrow they will have removed all of them, and peace will settle over the land.

Earlier this year, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board removed William Golding’s classic Lord of the Flies from its curriculum after its advisory committee on equity agreed with a student who said the book’s themes were outdated and too focused on white, male power structures.

Well now almost all books are outdated, aren’t they, because that’s time for you. It just keeps passing, and so books keep getting older. Maybe we should class them with apples and eggs and other things that go bad over time? Give them a shelf-life stamp?

Other books recently removed from Canadian school libraries and/or curriculums in response to complaints about racist, homophobic, or misogynistic language and themes, include Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Er…I think somebody somewhere missed the point.

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