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Hamilton County library leader: Discussion to come on reshelving of teen titles

People attended a Hamilton East Library Board meeting on April 28, 2023, in Noblesville. (WISH Photo/Danielle Zulkosky via Twitter)

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — The leader of a Hamilton County library board facing criticism over its reshelving of young adult books into the adult section says a discussion is in order.

The Hamilton East library district’s Collection Development Policy has faced criticism nationally this week from John Green, the Indianapolis-based author of “The Fault of Our Stars,” and other writers. The policy requires strict attention be given to nudity, alcohol and drug use, profanity, violence, and sexual content before a book is placed in the children’s or teen sections. The library district in April estimated it would spend up of $300,000 to review all titles in the teen section.

The policy overrides publisher, author and librarian recommendations on where to shelve books.

Green says “The Fault in Our Stars,” his most popular book, was among those title reshelved for violating the updated terms of the policy. The book was made into a 2014 movie that was rated PG-13 and reportedly grossed $307.2 million.

A T-shirt company picked up on the words Green shared on social media: “You won’t catch me alive or dead in Fishers, Indiana until these ridiculous policies are revoked.”

That phrase now graces a shirt on sale from Raygun, which is sharing a portion of sales with the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in Indianapolis.

Laura Alerding, president of the library board, acknowledged this week’s criticism in an email sent Friday night to News 8.

She wrote, “Over the past several months, the Hamilton East Public Library Board of Trustees has taken great strides to protect our most vulnerable patrons, our children, from content that was not age appropriate. While parents or guardians have the responsibility to determine what is appropriate for their own children, our Collection Development Policy ensures that families are no longer confronted with age- inappropriate content in the children’s section.”

She also wrote, due to the week’s events, the board “will lead a discussion regarding the book review process and the operational plan to ensure we have the best outcome in the days ahead.

“There will be no further comment at this time. The Board will plan to discuss this further at its upcoming board meeting.”

Alerding did not say when the public discussion about the policy would happen.

The Library board meeting has been set for 2 p.m. for discussion on board positions and 3 p.m. for the regular agenda at either the Center Meeting Room in the Fishers Library or the Large Meeting Room in Noblesville Library.

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