GVL library board to reconsider book club policy

Chairman Hill says Rainbow Book Club goes against efforts to be ‘neutral’
GVL library board to reconsider book club policy
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 9:22 AM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - For now, there won’t be a Rainbow Book Club in the Greenville County Library System. There won’t be a True Crime Book Club, This Month in History Book Club or Romanced Book Club, either.

The Library Board of Trustees voted to drop the club-specific names while they consider creating a neutrality policy. This comes after the formation of the first library-sponsored LGBTQ group: the Rainbow Book Club.

Chairman Allan Hill said he’s received emails from people concerned about the club’s meeting being listed in the September/October Event Guide. Hill said the way the event is worded could lead people to think the library is pro-LGBTQ. Hill said his priority, and the library’s role, is to be neutral.

In the event guide, the Rainbow Book Club’s description said: “Celebrate LGBTQIA+ literature with a welcoming and inclusive community of bookworms.”

“We’re not going to be able to be everything to everybody, but we can certainly not be controversial where we are picking a side,” Hill said.

All of the book clubs can still meet, read the same books and host the same discussions, but in the printed event guides and on the online calendar each club will just be called “Book Club.” They also agreed each description will be uniform, saying, “Read and discuss,” followed by the book of the month.

The renaming will be temporary until a policy is created on how to handle what Hill called “controversial” clubs. First, the policy will be discussed in the Operations Committee, then it will go before the Board of Trustees.

The decision came after a 30-minute public comment period. Nearly 20 people signed up to address the board, but only 13 were able to speak.

Many who spoke, including Greenville County Republican Party chairman Jeff Davis, called on the board to remove certain LGBTQ books from the children’s section and place them somewhere else in the library, saying they contain images and concepts inappropriate for kids.

Others, including ACLU of South Carolina legal fellow and legislative advocate Josh Malkin, asked the board to not restrict access.

At one point in the afternoon, police were called to the library after someone called 911 to report inappropriate material on display, according to Greenville Police Sergeant Johnathan Bragg. However, Bragg said the responding officer found no criminal activity.

A similar police report was made in Travelers Rest about the local library branch in September. No criminal activity was found in that instance, either.