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Information on HSD’s Library and Resource Materials Systems

Hempfield School District is committed to researching, investigating and responding to concerns brought to the attention of school administrators. At a recent Board meeting, several community members expressed concern over a few books and texts they believe to be inappropriate and available in our schools’ libraries.

Since the meeting, district administrators and staff have looked into the concerns brought forth and reviewed the books in question, as well as reviewed the selection, challenge, and weeding processes for resource materials.

We strive to maintain a collection of print and online books for our students that is well-balanced and well-rounded in coverage of subject, types of materials, and variety of content, while maintaining appropriate maturation levels of the students they are serving.

Of the books specifically referenced at the recent Board meeting, one print copy was available at the high school; two titles were available through the IU13’s online catalog system only; and no elementary or middle school students have access to these titles. It is also important to note that none of the books referenced are required reading for any student, but rather available in the library system for student selection.

The district’s closer look into these materials brought to light that we can do a better job of informing parents and the community about how to check what texts are actually available to students, and share some of the challenges we face in managing both the in-person and online e-book collections.

In addition to our online systems, we utilize IU13’s catalog, SORA. This is a joint resource shared by all Lancaster/Lebanon schools. While this is a great resource, one of the challenges we face is that we do not manage the titles in their collection. If, however, we become aware of a text that is misclassified or inappropriate for our schools, we can prevent it from showing up in a Destiny search. Parents can also request to opt their child out of the entire SORA collection and rely solely on Hempfield School District’s tools.

Another challenge is how certain texts show up when searched at different school/grade levels. For example, when we move a text to the High School only, it will show as “OUT” for Elementary/Middle School students. The students cannot check them out or access them, however, the title remains in the system. We recently learned that the titles must manually be removed from each individual school’s Destiny catalog for them to not display in a search. This is an ongoing task that our librarians continue to work through.

Hempfield School District has nearly 150,000 titles in our collection. No single librarian has read all 150,000 titles. We rely on the School Library Journal and Booklists, among other resources, to check reviews. And, these reviews are not always perfect at indicating inappropriate content. Sometimes we don’t find out until a book is read. It’s similar to our internet content filter – we put abundant safeguards in place, but there is occasionally a gap. In these instances, as soon as a gap is identified, we close it as quickly as possible.

What can you do:

  1. Review the materials – Parents have access to all of the library’s titles by going to their child’s school library page and looking up the titles in Destiny. You can see titles, authors, book descriptions, awards, and more. Use this document for directions on how to access and perform searches in Destiny.

  2. Block the content – You can have specific titles blocked from your child without having the book/resource removed from the library, making it inaccessible to other students. This can be completed quickly and simply with an email to your child’s librarian with the request.

  3. Challenge If you have concerns about specific curricular or resource materials, please follow the procedure explained in the administrative guidelines developed in accordance with Board Policy 109.

Bottom line – if you have a concern, please talk with your child’s librarian first to make sure you have the facts about the book in question and to confirm that the title is indeed accessible to your child. Then you can make an informed decision about whether you want to have the specific book/resource blocked from your child.