LEEDS — Librarians from Maine School Administrative District 52 schools presented their multistep process for evaluating and selecting educational materials for district libraries at the board of directors meeting Thursday.

The presentation may have come in response to a Leeds parent who alleged that the high school library contains “pornographic literature” at the last meeting Sept. 22. The parent was directed to read the school policy on challenging library materials.

Leavitt Area High School Librarian Judith Lashman told directors that district librarians choose materials that are beloved favorites, complement academic curriculums, are recently published and provide a diverse perspective.

When selecting library materials, Lashman said she and the other librarians look at professional librarian journals, award-winning books, catalogues and other lists from professional organizations.

They also consider student and teacher requests, however the books must be age-appropriate. Books written by Colleen Hoover, a popular adult romance author, for example, are often requested, but not age-appropriate for the high school library, Lashman said.

After compiling lists of potential purchases, the librarians consider online reviews, learning objectives, awards and the suggested age ranges from various professional sources for each book. Sometimes when more information is needed, they will read excerpts of the book and look at Amazon and Goodreads reviews.


“Purchasing is never a quick, easy decision for us,” Lashman said.

Tracy Weston, librarian at Tripp Middle School, said she will sometimes purchase and read the book for herself if she’s on the fence about adding it to the library. Often if the book isn’t quite appropriate for the middle school, she will send it to either the high school or elementary school libraries.

Director Tammy Fereshetian of Turner praised the district’s educational materials policies and encouraged parents and other community members to read it.

“It does give us lots of ways to opt out . . . if there are some specific materials,” she said. “As a parent, I really appreciate that it honors parents’ requests for their children specifically, and I think that is a really important thing to have in this day and age, particularly given the books that are being published right now.”

The selection of educational materials policy states that parents have the right to inspect materials used as part of the curriculum. A related policy allows parents to request that their child be exempt from parts of the regular curriculum that do not align with their religious, philosophical or moral beliefs.

“The MSAD 52 board of directors recognizes that the final authority as to what materials an individual student will be exposed to rests with that student’s parents or guardians,” the district’s selection of educational materials policy says. “However, at no time will the wishes of one child’s parents to restrict his/her reading or viewing of a particular item infringe on other parents’ rights to permit their children to read or view the same material.”

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