The Rio Rancho City Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the library and Information Services Department and its staff, policies and procedures at Thursday’s meeting.
The April 13 and 27 meetings featured lively debate about a proposal by a group to ban certain books from the public libraries. Two individuals were escorted out of the April 27 meeting. Some citizens have accused the city of breaking the law in regards to library procedures.
“I wish that when folks come in here and start accusing the city of violating the law that they would actually go out and research the law themselves,” District 3 Councilor Bob Tyler said. “You know, they need to do their own due diligence, as we do. And I sit up here and listen to this day in and day out. Do your research, make your accusations, but don’t come in here and do it without any research or any due diligence whatsoever. It frustrates me to have to listen; that frustrates me that staff has to respond to that type of behavior.”
The resolution, sponsored by Mayor Gregg Hull, Tyler and District 5 Councilor Karissa Culbreath, shows that the Governing Body supports the library and Information Services Department and its staff and believes that sufficient procedures (items cataloged and arranged in separate collections and areas for children, teen, and adult; availability of different library card types) are in place regarding age-related accessibility of the materials available at public libraries. It would also resolve that the Request for Reconsideration Policy related to the selection or placement of an item in the public library collection is the appropriate avenue to address any concerns related to library materials and that the responsibility for children at a public library — and decisions about what materials are suitable — rests with the parent or guardian. The resolution passed 6-0 after a presentation, comments from the public and councilors.
“I want to say that the resolution before us today is to solidify the topic of removal and additional books in the public library,” Tyler said. “Our library has a great policy and procedure in place. Our staff, our legal department, everyone has done an amazing job to keep us informed, as I think they’ve kept all of the citizens informed.”
City Clerk Rebecca Martinez said she received 86 comments on the resolution, with 85 being in favor of it.
“We believe that the solid policy the procedure and the resolution spells out that the city of Rio Rancho, the library and our staff has put in place a proper process and procedures that offers a protections to all citizens, including youth and children,” Tyler said. “This is a slippery slope and if we ban one book, where does it stop? We can’t be banning books. It’s just not what I think we need to be doing. If you don’t like it, don’t read the damn book. That’s pretty simple. Don’t pick it up. And I think parents, as we’ve seen throughout society, need to decide what our kids read and don’t read. It’s not up to anybody else.”