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Nampa school librarian and teacher weigh in on districts discussion over banning books

When the board decided to pull the long list of books, there was already a process in place for challenging books if that were to happen, according to Nampa teacher.

BOISE, Idaho — Following Nampa’s School Boards work session on Monday, many are left wondering what the next steps in their book challenging process.

"There was some processes in place for this challenging book process, personally, I didn't see all of it at one time written down, something that I could hand to a parent in the community who would ask what is the process for challenging books?" said Chairman of the board, Jess Kirkman.

During the meeting, board members who were in favor of banning the books spoke up.

“I just believe some of those books should not be in the library because I know how kids are, they are going to go find those books and look at what's in there and I just think schools ought to be a safe place,” said one board member.

Nancy Finney has been the librarian at the Nampa High School for 24 years. She was invited to attend Monday's workshop to share thoughts and ideas on how to move forward. According to Finney, schools are a safe place, and removing books could potentially be harmful to a child’s education.

"Not everyone is going to like every book that's ever written, I haven't and I think that I am a pretty avid reader,” Finney said. “In our day and age, what so many people are living through is not necessarily a pretty, flowery happy time, some people are living through some pretty bad things and there needs to be ways to cope with it.”

Finney said a way to cope with life challenges, is being exposed to realistic situations by reading and learning about them. She added that not many know the work that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to selecting books for her library’s shelves.

“We look at age appropriateness, we look at award winners, I look at what the kids ask me to get, I look at a lot of different things before I determine which books to put In the library,” Finney said.

Brian Coffey is an English teacher at Nampa High School and president of the Nampa Education Association. According to Coffey, when the board decided to pull the long list of books there was already a process in place for challenging books if that were to happen.

“The new procedure that was being used on a trial basis involved creating a group of stakeholders that included parents, administrators, and certified staff, to actually review any book that was challenged and the idea was to have this working group read the books to know what was happening, summarize them and make a recommendation to the board so that the board wouldn't have to read every single book,” Coffey said.

However, the board chairman decided the current procedure wasn’t straightforward and that they shall collaborate on a new one.

“There’s more to this story than just the idea that there's some visceral language that is controversial or arguably inappropriate or challenging.”

“The suspicion because of how these things are playing out in other states, is that what it is really about, is anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, cultural war issues anti-BIPOC author issues and I think people are savvier now, they know that they can't come out and say you should ban this book because the author is black, that's not going to be publicly actionable so instead you call it pornography," Coffey said.

The work session was meant to discuss and listen to different perspectives. While no changes we made, no books were brought back, both Coffey and Finney are hopeful that someday the books will return.

“I hope that people would not just look at a list of most objected to books and say 'oh this must be a bad book,' until you read it you don't know,” Finney said.

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