The Roanoke County School Board appears determined to make school librarians as difficult to recruit and retain as police and public safety personnel have become nationwide.
A new policy for school library book purchases requires that two elementary school librarians must now read and write a review for each book in order to consider it for the library’s collection. For a book being considered for the middle school or high school level, the policy appears to acknowledge the greater lengths of those books, as only one librarian is required to read and write a review. After the reviews are written, all librarians at all levels must approve of the book for the purchase to go forward.
Critics of the policy have stated that not only does it create a mountain of unreasonable work for these librarians, but that there is no other policy like it in the region.
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Officials with Roanoke County Public Schools have already shown questionable judgment with the recent removal of the children’s picture book “When Aidan Became a Brother” from the shelves of an elementary school. That innocuous book’s sin was daring to have a trans boy as its main character.
School officials insist that the bizarre new book purchasing restrictions imposed upon school librarians have nothing to do with the ejection of “When Aidan Became a Brother.” If true, frankly, that just makes these ridiculous restrictions even weirder.
Put into practical effect, the only purpose this policy genuinely serves is to make it as difficult as possible for the school system to purchase new library books.
Yet because, technically, book purchases are still allowed — once the librarians have been forced to jump through all these unnecessary additional hoops — the crafters of the policy can still claim, dishonestly, falsely, that they back librarians and support literacy.