The library is a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation because it is most cost-effective, allows for tax-deductible donations, and uses a volunteer board of trusted citizens with expertise and experience in business, technology, education, management, accounting, military, and civic organizations.
The library has a diverse collection in line with its mission to bring people, information, and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. Selected materials present an array of topics and opinions and should be judged as a whole rather than on isolated passages.
Only 53 out of 20,461 patrons (0.25%) have flooded the library with frivolous Request for Reconsideration forms to unlawfully challenge books with LGBTQ content, severely disrupt the normal operations of the library, and harass the librarians and staff.
The total cost to process all 134 books being challenged equals $96,480 in staff time and related costs and $80,400 in in-kind volunteer time. (Each Young Adult book costs about $720 in staff time and $600 in in-kind donation of volunteer time.)
Warren County is still under financial pressure from the EDA scandal and cannot afford to risk lawsuits that might result from violating civil rights. Warren Co has already committed $10,000 to legal fees. The library has allocated $25,000 to fight the challenges. This is just the beginning of the financial implications of these book challenges.
All the books in question are being challenged because they contain LBGTQ content. Attempts to segregate books for no other reason than they portray LGBTQ people in a positive light is discriminatory and a violation of civil rights.
The Virginia Values Act of 2020 and the Virginia Human Rights Act clearly state that it is unlawful to discriminate based on sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity in places of public accommodations, including libraries.
As a public library, the staff and Board of Trustees cannot impose a religious standard of pornography or obscenity and must use the legal definition set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. California. A book must meet all three standards to be judged obscene: be without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value; appeal to the prurient interest according to community standards; and describe sexual conduct or excretory functions in an offensive way.
Banning, removing, or censoring materials, speakers, or displays violates First Amendment rights. The right to speak and publish under the First Amendment protects individuals and society from information suppression and censorship. Intellectual freedom is a basic right in a democratic society.
Parents/guardians are responsible for what their children, and only their children, take out of the library. The library has powerful tools to help parents: three card options to restrict what children take out; detailed book descriptions in the library catalog; and professional librarians to act as resources to guide parents to appropriate materials.