Libraries in Llano County to remain open after commissioners call special meeting
LLANO COUNTY, Texas - The Llano County library system will continue operations as legal issues play out in the courts.
A special called meeting was held on April 13 by county commissioners to discuss whether to "continue or cease operations of the current physical Llano County library system pending further guidance from the federal courts."
The 40-person capacity meeting room was packed, with many left outside due to full capacity. Some said they didn’t feel they were given fair notice about the meeting and when to show up.
Commissioners listened to over half an hour of public comment.
"We have to be a community that values knowledge, and that’s what our libraries are, they are at the heart of our community," said one speaker.
Some speakers read explicit, sexual content in books that they said were on library shelves and marketed to children.
"There are things I agree with, the library is a vital place for the community, but they say it’s a safe place for kids, it is not a safe place for kids," said one speaker. "I am for closing the library until we get this filth off the shelves."
"Does Llano, Texas, want to be known as the town that close the public library?" said another speaker.
When FOX 7 visited the library before the meeting, it appeared the 17 books had been checked out. However, one parent told FOX 7 there are over 250 books still in the library with graphic or pornographic content that some in the community are concerned about.
"That’s just the tip of the iceberg," said the parent, in regard to some of the explicit content read aloud during Thursday’s meeting.
FOX 7 ran into Llano resident Amy Copes as she was renewing her library card and checking out books before attending the meeting.
"I think it’s imperative for a healthy community, a town that loses its libraries is ultimately a town that loses its soul and eventually its minds," said Copes, who pointed out the various resources available at the library beyond books, especially for lower-income families.
Last year, a lawsuit was filed over 17 books that had been removed from library shelves, claiming first amendment rights were violated.
In March, a federal judge issued a temporary order ruling the 17 books had to be returned.
After going into executive session, commissioners decided the item would be removed from the agenda and the library would stay open.
"They ought to put 'taboo' all over those books and throw them out the door and burn them, that’s what I think about them," said resident Barbara Light in response to the decision. "The library itself is wonderful, the books are horrible."
Commissioners shared a two-page statement with attendees and media after the meeting.
"The plaintiffs have falsely accused our librarian of weeding these books because of their content, even though our librarian has stated repeatedly under oath that she hasn’t even read the books and weeded them for reasons unrelated to their content or viewpoints," said the statement in part. "We have also fully accommodated the plaintiffs by returning the 17 disputed books to Llano Library and making them available for the plaintiffs to check out and read through the Llano Library‘s in-house check out system. But the plaintiffs continue to sue us even though we have made every single one of the 17 disputed books available to them for check out.
The county has appealed the federal ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
This order is a clear invitation to the plaintiffs and any other potential litigant to sue Llano County and any other Texas county or municipality that operates a public library if it follows the weeding process of uncirculated books which is promoted by the state of Texas Library and Archive Commission and endorsed by the American Library Association."