The Board of Directors approves a policy to select appropriate books for Utah school libraries

After months of deliberation over a policy for determining appropriate or inappropriate book titles for school libraries, the Utah Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a model library materials policy. (Kristen Murphy, Desert News)

Estimated reading time: 7-8 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY What Kinds of Books Are Allowed – or Not Allowed – in Utah School Libraries?

After months of deliberation over a policy to determine which book titles are appropriate or inappropriate for school libraries, the Utah Board of Education voted Tuesday to approve a library materials model policy that aims to define “the process for determining which materials should be included or ineligible for use in libraries and schools.”

The policy, which provides guidance for districts and charter schools to review potentially sensitive materials in schools, was developed in response HB374 The rule of the council R277-628.

Specific directions of the policy include:

  • Guidelines for Who Can Submit a Sensitive Material Review Request and Request Form
  • Guidance on how to set up an audit committee and when it should reach a decision
  • The process of appealing the decision of the review committee
  • Outline of steps USBE will take if it is determined that a school or charter school did not follow specific library policy and/or Utah law during the review process

“There was a lot of reflection on this for sure,” said Kelsey James, Board Communications Coordinator. “Gathering feedback from different board members, you know, and going to their constituents.” “The bulk was the work of the board of directors, and it is clear that Legislature, and making sure that we set up HB374 … as well as the attorney general’s office, making sure we comply with state and federal laws so that we can provide these guidelines to (local education agencies). “

Responsibility for selecting the final book in school libraries rests with trained library staff under the supervision of the relevant local education agency board of directors using the following criteria, in accordance with the policy:

  1. General purpose and educational significance
  2. legitimacy
  3. Age and fitness for growth
  4. Good timing and/or timeliness
  5. Easy to read and reach the target audience
  6. Artistic quality and literary style
  7. The reputation and importance of the author, producer and/or publisher
  8. A variety of coordination with efforts to integrate emerging technologies
  9. Quality and value commensurate with cost and/or need

In addition, a request to review library materials for a book may only be submitted by a parent of a student studying at school, a student studying at school, or a school employee.

The challenge book review process takes a long time (30 school days where possible and no more than 60 school days), with the local education agency setting up a review committee made up of administrators, teachers, librarians, and parents to decide what to go with the challenge book.

The review committee will then make a final decision – by a majority vote – for a book reviewed as follows:

  1. Retained: The determination to maintain access in the school environment to materials that have been challenged for all students.
  2. Restricted: The determination to restrict access in the school environment to objectionable materials to certain students as determined by the review committee
  3. Removed: Determined to prohibit access in a school setting to objectionable materials to all students.

After more than two hours of deliberation and policy adjustments, the Board voted to approve the Library Materials Model policy almost unanimously with Board Member Natalie Klein casting the only vote in opposition.


I’m only one person on the 15-man board, and the other board members present at today’s meeting decided to throw their efforts and votes behind the Master Merged model policy, which doesn’t require (local education agencies) to do one thing to stop porn.

– Natalie Klein, member of the State Board of Education


in the current situation Posted on her Facebook page On Tuesday, Klein thanked “the nearly 500 parents and grandparents who wrote to the board and reached out to me in the hope that the board would vote for a model policy that would actually ban porn, in any form, in their children’s schools.”

“I am only one person on the 15-man board, and the other board members present at today’s meeting decided to throw their efforts and votes behind the Master Merged model policy, which does not require local education bodies to do one thing to “stop porn,” Klein said.

It’s not about banning books

The question of the addresses available to students through their school libraries was first questioned Parents cry In November, this resulted in nine books being removed from library shelves in Canyons School District by Six of the nine titles were returned to shelves in February.

In an email obtained by KSL.com requesting public records, a Canyons School District parent wrote: “I have come across many videos on social media about sexually explicit books in our Utah school libraries, and in school libraries around the world. country”. “I ask you to take the time to review the videos below for inappropriate material. There is a lot but it is mentally exhausting, and to watch and review the content of these books.”

This feud has gained more strength with the conservative parent group Utah United Parents push more districts to remove headlines they said contained “pornographic or indecent material,” lobbied for support of HB374, a bill that would ban “sensitive material” and require school districts to evaluate objectionable content in libraries or classrooms and report that to Utah’s state assembly for education and, ultimately, the Utah legislature.


It’s not about banning books. It is a good process to review appropriate books in schools to the same standard already applied to students and other materials in our code.

– Sun. Todd Wheeler, R Woods Cross


“Right now, our children are exposed to pornography in school libraries,” said Nicole Mason, president of the Utah Parents Association. “They have unrestricted access to pornographic graphic novels that are, in fact, against the law.”

The House Education Committee voted February 11-2 to pass HB374 and the legislature subsequently approved the bill, which was signed by Utah Governor Spencer Cox.

“It’s not about banning books,” Senate sponsor Senator Todd Wheeler, R-Woods Cross, said on the last night of the legislative session. “It’s a good process of reviewing appropriate books in schools to the same standard already applied to students and other materials in our code.”

“Harm that affects the whole community”

Utah Alliance Alliance President Frank Brannan, at a rally last month in opposition to the policy proposed by Board Member Klein, called its proposed policy “extreme,” saying it “limits the diversity of library materials for students.”

“Utah’s education system belongs to all of us,” said Brannan. Banning a book because it showcases a gay or transgender character or touches on difficult topics that affect real teens — such as drug use, sexual assault, and racism — hurts all students, but, worse still, alienates students who see elements of themselves and their lives in those topics and characters.”


Unfortunately, the diverse stories, people, and topics make some people uncomfortable, and these books are the ones most challenged by parents. Underrepresentation in library books and programs is a detriment that affects students, families, and society at large.

— Rita Christensen, president of the Utah Library Association


Librarians in Utah have argued that the protest is an attempt to limit access to titles from diverse perspectives.

“Unfortunately, the diverse stories, people, and themes make some people uncomfortable, and these books are the ones most challenged by parents,” said Rita Christensen. “Unrepresentation in library books and programs is a detriment that affects students, families, and the entire community.” President of the Utah Library Association.

Christensen said that removing books from circulation due to parental protest sets a precedent that “one type of voice matters” and “that voice doesn’t have to follow rules, and that voices of marginalized people have no place on library shelves. It undermines trust in libraries (and) undermines democracy.” “.

According to a statement from the board of directors, school districts and charter schools will now use the Form Policy to develop a systematic process and timeframe for reviewing all school library materials using the Sensitive Materials Assessment Form to ensure compliance with Utah law.

The statement said each district and charter school board should review and approve its own policy by September 1, 2022, the deadline set forth in Board Rule R277-628.

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Logan Stefanis is a reporter at KSL.com, covering Southern Utah communities, education, business and military news.

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