Local NewsDecatur Public Library Keeps Explicit Books Despite Parents’ Requests for Removal

Local parents in Decatur are bringing attention to books in the library collection they believe have no place there.
October 6, 2022
Decatur Public Library in Wise County has decided to keep graphic books with explicit images and content, some even encouraging children to look at pornography.

Two concerned community members and parents, Lia Carta and Tiffany Cook, found the books in the library and asked the library staff what could be done about them.

They were told to complete the library’s materials reconsideration form and submit them for the books to be reviewed. The women had hundreds of forms from local residents to turn in within a few days.

“Let’s Talk About It,” a teen guide to sex, is an illustrated book that includes encouraging minors to consume pornography and even suggests they join “online communities” to learn about fetishes where people are sharing their “sexy adventures online.” It has many explicit depictions within it.

“Flamer,” a book about a homosexual boy, is in the young adult section. Carta considers its content very pornographic and said some sections are very degrading to Roman Catholics.

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It has been the subject of protest in several school districts around Texas, including in Katy and Keller.

A children’s book about puberty that contains graphic depictions of sex acts, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” is in the children’s section shelved in an area near the Lego creation books, Carta said.

After receiving the forms asking for reconsideration of these books, the library director Dawn Wilbert said she created an ad hoc committee of library employees to review the materials in accordance with the library policy.

She said that many of the forms objecting to the books could not be considered because they were not from registered library users as required by the reconsideration policy, so the committee was only left with a handful.

Carta and Cook were also concerned about what they considered a lack of transparency in the review process.

In a recorded phone call to Carta, Wilbert said that the only book that would be removed from the collection was “It’s Perfectly Normal,” not for graphic and explicit depictions, but because information about birth control and Roe v. Wade contained in the book was outdated. She was noncommittal about whether the library might acquire an updated version of the book.

“So you guys are willing to remove a book if it doesn’t reflect Roe v. Wade accurately, but if it has pornography and explicit materials, that’s okay?” said Carta.

Wilbert replied, “Yes.”

She went on to cite the library’s policy: “While each citizen is free to reject for himself/herself any materials of which he/she does not approve, no one can exercise that right for others. The responsibility for the reading, viewing or listening of children rests with their parents and legal guardians. Selection will not be inhibited by the possibility that controversial materials may come into the possession of children.”

The committee found no issue with “Flamer” because it was based on the author’s own experience.

She also said the library would be keeping “Let’s Talk About It” and would be moving it back to the teen section from the adult section.

Wilbert added that the library is planning to purchase several books recommended by Carta on how to talk to children about these issues, including “The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality” and “How to Talk to Your Kids about Pornography.”

Carta also pointed out to Wilbert that the library’s collection is small and choices have to be made about what to include. “What else are you going to put in the library that my children have access to?” asked a concerned Carta.

“With how small our library is, I’m just so confused [about] why [you choose] these books when there are so many books with good values. Why have these books that are encouraging children to watch porn?” Carta posed to Wilbert.

Decatur’s library has a collection of about 42,264 volumes and an annual budget of just less than $600,000.

A secondary materials appeal committee can be formed for further review. It is composed of the library director, the library board, and other librarians or community members as the director deems appropriate.

After learning of the decision about the contested books, Carta and Cook encouraged interested community members to attend the library board meeting, which was canceled the day before it was to take place.

Carta drafted a letter requesting further review and was planning to submit it to the library on Thursday, October 6.

But Carta has concerns about whether that review will be fair. “There should be no hesitancy in having views from both sides come together to discuss and make a decision. It is local taxpayers who fund the library…” Carta wrote in the letter obtained by The Texan.

“My goal is to not have to do this again. I don’t want to police the library. I want trustworthy people with the same morals who want to protect our children,” Cook told The Texan.

Local pastor James Varnadore thinks it is “ludicrous” that the typically conservative community is even having this conversation.

“If parents could see the content of these books, they would be horrified,” Varnadore, who has seen the images, told The Texan.

He said describing the books as “inappropriate” is an understatement. “Pornographic would be an accurate term.”

He also believes the community needs to be aware of what is going on. “People think we live in a safe bubble in our community. That it can never happen here. But it’s happening,” he added.

The library’s mission is “to enrich the lives of the community by being a strong community partner and empowering citizens through equal opportunity to high quality education, literature, technology, and collaborative experiences in a welcoming, community-centered facility.”

Cook and Carta plan to make a presentation to the Decatur City Council on Monday, October 10 about the issue.

Wilbert did not reply to a request for comment before the time of publication.

Update: The city secretary’s office informed Carta on Friday that their presentation to the city council had been pulled from the agenda for Monday’s meeting by the mayor who wished to have a private meeting with Carta and Cook.


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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a regional reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.

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