Llano County residents file lawsuit after books removed from library system

LLANO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) – A federal lawsuit is working to prevent the future removal of books from the Llano County library system after county commissioners in December approved the suspension of the OverDrive system from the library. The complaint was filed by members of the public.

On Wednesday, the plaintiffs behind the lawsuit filed an injunction in the Western District of Texas to both “stop the ongoing removal of books and to restore books that government officials have already removed,” according to a statement from hurry. More than 17,000 digital books have been removed from the Llano County Library system, according to the release.

“Plaintiffs respectfully request a preliminary injunction to halt Defendants’ systematic efforts to ban the books from Llano County public libraries,” the injunction reads in part. “The book ban violates fundamental principles of the First Amendment and strikes at the heart of our democracy. Each time plaintiffs are denied their right to access banned books, they suffer immediate and irreparable harm. »

The origin of the lawsuit goes back to December 13when Llano County commissioners voted to suspend its OverDrive system, a virtual library service that housed e-books.

“This action has been taken to provide the county with an opportunity to thoroughly review and better understand the resources provided by OverDrive, the accessibility of these resources, and to explore what other online services are available,” the official said. Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham to KXAN in a December statement. “Once these options have been evaluated, the Llano County Commissioners Court will determine as soon as possible what online service can be provided in the future.”

At that same meeting, Llano County Commissioners also established a 13-person Library Advisory Board and approved a three-day library closure for “proper inventory and cataloging of books.”

The injunction alleges that there has been a “systematic campaign to eradicate books containing ideas or messages that they [county commissioners] disagree with” since last August. Reported books include “Spinning” by Tillie Walden, “They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent” by Isabel Wilkerson, according to the statement.

“In doing so, Defendants have transformed County Public Libraries from contemplative spaces where residents can explore the marketplace of ideas into battlegrounds in Defendants’ political and ideological warfare,” the injunction states.

In Texas, concerns about the content of books have moved to the forefront of conversations at the state and local level.

In November, Governor Greg Abbott published a letter to the Texas Association of School Boards regarding concerns expressed by Texas parents regarding books, graphic novels, and other materials in ISD libraries and school systems.

“The most egregious examples include clearly pornographic images and substances that have no place in the Texas public education system. These parents are rightly angry,” Abbott said, in part, in the letter. “Parents have the right to protect their children from obscene material used in the schools their children attend. They are correct that Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene material to students.”

Abbott’s letter follows an investigation launched by Texas Republicans into school district curricula and books used on campus, particularly those that address race and sexuality. In an October 25 letter to the Texas Education Agency obtained by the Texas TribuneRep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, noted the book deletions in state DSIs and compiled a 16-page list of nearly 850 books that he had concerns about their content.

Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham, named in the lawsuit, declined to comment due to the active nature of the trial.

“Llano County appreciates your request; however, we will not comment on ongoing litigation,” court coordinator Jennifer Buchanan said in an emailed statement to KXAN.