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Library conference speaker tells librarians not to label LGBT+ books because 'it makes it too easy for parents or community members to find'
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Library conference speaker tells librarians not to label LGBT+ books because 'it makes it too easy for parents or community members to find'

A speaker at a recent virtual library conference instructed school and public librarians to take steps to prevent parents and community members from finding books with LGBT+ themes, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

The June seminar, hosted by Library 2.0 and called "Banned Books and Censorship: Current Intellectual Freedom Issues in the Library," featured Valerie Byrd Fort, an instructor at the University of South Carolina.

Byrd Fort presented a session titled "Get Ready, Stay Ready: Community Action Toolkit" that instructed librarians on how to best ensure that parents and other concerned community members would not find LGBT+ books.

The presentation covered "some things you could do proactively to get ready when censors come knocking at your door."

Byrd Fort's "Pro-Active Steps to Take" advised librarians to create rotating displays of recommended books. She stated that the displays should "let the community know that you're there for all students and not just certain groups."

Byrd Fort recommended having student volunteers create some of the displays.

"If somebody maybe has something to say about one of those displays, you could say, 'well, we had one of our teen volunteers create it, so it just goes to show that they want to see it and they need to see these resources,'" she said.

Byrd Fort then instructed school librarians to avoid labeling the books with "identity-based subject headings" such as "LGBTQIA+" or "Gays Fiction."

"Aside from being bad practice, it makes it too easy for parents or community members to find those kinds of books," she explained. "Don't make it necessarily easy for those groups to find, but make it easy for those who want the books."

For students to easily find the titles, the seminar suggested providing children with a physical list of LGBT-themed literature or creating a digital list that could only be accessed with a username and password.

"We have plenty of examples of book challenges, book banning … things being put out on social media by people that aren't even a part of a certain library community," Fort stated. "So that will help make it very hard for that to happen."

If students express concerns about a particular title, librarians are encouraged to "explain how just because something isn't for them, that doesn't mean we're going to keep it from everyone else."

Byrd Fort advised providing students with "privacy covers" when they want to read books with LGBT+ themes "or something else with potential to offend."

A Library 2.0 spokesperson told the DCNF, "For these events, none of the speakers are compensated, and the opening keynote panel host chooses his or her own panel members."

"So those particular remarks, or any remarks in that context, do not represent the position of the conference organizers, as we've never taken a position on any issue. And while we might personally agree or disagree with specific sentiments that are expressed in forum discussions or conference sessions, we've never censored or deleted any content–although we obviously would if it were slanderous or illegal," the spokesperson added.

Byrd Fort did not respond to a request for comment, the DCNF reported.

Get Ready, Stay Ready: A Community Action Toolkityoutu.be

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