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  • Writer's pictureJessica Lovering, LMSW

Southern Tier Voices

Public Library Bans Book About Pride From Children’s Story Hour


I’m married to a woman and we have fraternal twin daughters who will be 3 in September. We live in Troy, PA.

There is not much to do in our town for toddlers, so I started taking them to the Allen F. Pierce Library. Initially, the interaction between the twins and the staff was great. It became our “every other Saturday” routine.


I offered to volunteer and host a preschool story hour on Saturdays. I began coordinating this with library staff member Steve Bolt, whom I believe, according to the library website, is the director. He was very eager to help me get this rolling. The library waved fingerprinting and background checks after learning that I was a licensed New York State social worker, and I work with children.

I came up with the idea of the Preschool Story Hour, to also include making a craft and having a snack. Steve agreed that would be perfect and he also commented he didn’t care what I read. It didn’t need to be a library book either. I took the initiative to create flyers to advertise the story hour in the library and to put on their FB page. This was never asked of me to do. All the books I chose, I bought, and I hand-delivered the flyers to Steve, who then gave them to another library staff member to post online. I had also given them all the dates for story-hour for the summer. This was posted on their website, too. I had two successful story hours and my kids made new friends.


June came along. In honor of Pride month, I chose and purchased the book “We are the Rainbow! The Colours of Pride” to read. I created the flyer as usual. This time I emailed it to Steve because it was more convenient. The next day Steve emailed back, “Jessica, the Board is not comfortable with this book. Could you please choose another one? Thank you.”

I was surprised and, of course, asked why.

Steve’s response – “They indicated that they felt that this topic was better left for parents to discuss with their children.”


Here is my response to Steve’s last email –

“What topic are they referring to? The reason I put the flyer out with the book on it, is so parents who bring their children know what the story is ahead of time. The choice to attend is up to them. I’m not understanding why the board is now involved in my book selection but their request is denied. I’m a volunteer not an employee and I was told by you I could read whatever I want.”


Jessica Lovering reading a book during the Preschool Story Time she created and volunteered for; the book cover of the book Jessica chose to read for the June Preschool Story Hour at Allen F. Pierce Library in Troy, Pa.; the flyer created to announce the book chosen for June story hour, which gives parents information on the monthly book choices.


Well, he never replied to my email. I was extremely hurt and offended that this book was banned. After discussing the situation with my spouse, we decided not to take the girls there Saturday when I was supposed to do story time. Primarily, because I was hurt and emotional and I never got a response back from Steve about my book choice. It just didn’t feel safe for me and the girls to be there … I did get a separate email from him in a new thread the following Wednesday. It read –

“ Good afternoon, Jessica,

We appreciate you taking the initiative and volunteering for preschool story hour, and for the time you put into preparing and leading. However, since you didn't come on Saturday for the scheduled story time, and we didn't hear from you prior to, or since, about not coming, the board has decided to discontinue your services for the story hour.

Thank you for your time in the past. We hope to see you and your kids back in the library soon!”

Sincerely,

Steve Bolt, on behalf of the Library Board


I have all the email threads and proof that he did hear from me prior to the scheduled story hour. It’s been very hard for me to say out loud but, I do believe I was discriminated against. This library is anti-LGBTQ+, they do not value diversity and inclusivity. A library should reflect all kinds of families and children.

Most of all, this book and its contents are not harmful. Ultimately, had my flyer been shared, parents would have known what the story was and decided for themselves whether they brought their kiddos in.

About this Feature


Southern Tier Voices is a feature that invites area members to share their thoughts, knowledge and information on topics of interest with the community. To contribute to Southern Tier Voices, please email info.southerntierlife@gmail.com.

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