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Hamilton East Public Library reviewing all books in teen sections to make sure they are age appropriate

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Posted at 7:58 PM, May 03, 2023

HAMILTON COUNTY — Two local libraries will require librarians to review each book in the teen section from cover to cover.

Hamilton East Public Library system, which has two locations in Noblesville and Fishers, has a new policy they must follow. Reviewing every book in the teen section is expected to take up to 8,000 hours.

“The goal is to say that if we have a children’s section and a teen section, the books are age appropriate,” Dr. Ray Maddalone, Secretary of the Hamilton East Library Board of Trustees, said.

The library board enacted a new review policy for books. According to public documents, books need to be in the adult section if they have repeated use of profanity, not in the teen section.

The library says it is following the same guidelines as they do on daytime TV.

“We are a public library. We don’t censor, we don’t ban and we don’t remove books from the library,” Dr. Maddalone said.

Books in the teen section also cannot include depictions of violence that would violate Indiana law. You can find a breakdown of the policy on pages 3 through 10 of this document.

Parents are not in favor of the new policy.

“I think parents can parent their own children,” Amber Blackburn, a Hamilton County parent, said. “I am capable of choosing what my child reads and I don’t really need anyone to police that for me.”

Kara Hwang, a Hamilton East Public Library patron, says it’s subjective. What she views as OK for her children to read might not be OK in other parent’s eyes.

However, parents who do agree with the policy believe there are some books that are not appropriate for kids in the section.

“I don’t think it fully solves the problem, but it is a positive light. It’s a start in trying to do something,” Rod Kelly, a Hamilton County parent, said.

The board says they needed the policy because the old process for parents to challenge books wasn’t working.

"There were some books that the board, on review, found to be really age inappropriate. They weren't being moved and parents were complaining to the board about it,” Dr. Maddalone said.

When asked how many times that’s happened, Dr. Maddalone says she couldn’t recall the exact number of times but knows at least four books have come up.

The board says they consulted a law firm to write the new policy. The board member we interviewed says the police is constitutionally legal.

Right now, librarians are reading all the books in the library system’s teen collection to see if they need to be moved to the adult collection.

To do so, they removed every book from the shelves, something the board says they were surprised to see.

The board says they wish the librarians would have reviewed the books. When asked why that didn’t happen, they told us to ask the librarians.

WRTV reached out to Hamilton East librarians but did not get a response.

As for how much this is going cost, the library board member we spoke with says they're still trying to figure out a dollar amount but it is within the budget.