Libraries Clearing Shelves Through ‘Equity-Based’ Book Weeding

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by Mark Tapson, Front Page Mag:

The Diary of a Young Girl by Holocaust victim Anne Frank, the massively popular Harry Potter series, and the Newberry Medal-winning novel Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry about racial conflict in 1930s Mississippi are some notable examples of books that 10th grader Reina Takata can no longer find in her public high school library in Ontario, Canada. Why not? Because those titles were culled as part of a new “equity-based” weeding process implemented by the Peel District School Board (PDSB) last spring, leaving library shelves as bare as supermarket shelves in Biden’s America.

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Miss Takata told CBC Toronto that the shelves at Erindale Secondary School were full of books as recently as May, but gradually began to empty out. When she returned to school in the fall, “I came into my school library and there are rows and rows of empty shelves with absolutely no books.” (Takata herself took the photo above, of the bookshelves in her Mississauga high school’s library.) She estimates that more than half of her school’s library books are gone.

Libraries across Canada and in the United States have long followed standard weeding plans to dispose of damaged or outdated books; this is understandable and reasonable. But Reina Takata and many other students and parents are concerned that this new process emphasizing the leftist buzzwords “equity” and “inclusion” seems to have led some schools to remove thousands of books simply because they were published in 2008 or earlier.

Libraries not Landfills, a group of parents, retired teachers, and community members, says it has no issue with standard weeding but is concerned about both fiction and nonfiction books being removed based solely on their publication date. The group is also concerned about how subjective criteria like “inclusivity” are to be interpreted from school to school.

In a May 8th board committee meeting about the equitable weeding process, trustee Karla Bailey complained that “there are so many empty shelves” in the schools. “When you talk to the librarian in the library, the books are being weeded by the date, no other criteria,” Bailey told the committee. “None of us have an issue with removing books that are musty, torn, or racist, outdated. But by weeding a book, removing a book from a shelf, based simply on this date is unacceptable. And yes, I witnessed it.”

“Who’s the arbiter of what’s the right material to go in the library, and who’s the arbiter of what’s wrong in our libraries? That’s unclear,” Tom Ellard, a PDSB parent and the founder of Libraries not Landfills, told CBC Toronto. “It’s not clear to the teachers who’ve provided us this material, and it’s not clear to me as a parent or as a taxpayer.”

It’s clear to the PDSB, though, which seems to believe that progressive ideology is the arbiter. The board issued a statement that explained, “Books published prior to 2008 that are damaged, inaccurate, or do not have strong circulation data are removed.” So far, so good. But the board added that older titles can stay in the collection if they are “accurate, serve the curriculum, align with board initiatives and are responsive to student interest and engagement.” [Emphasis added]

Translation: titles older than 2008 can stay on the shelves as long as the content doesn’t challenge the prevailing woke worldview that the curriculum promotes.

“The Peel District School Board works to ensure that the books available in our school libraries are culturally responsive, relevant, inclusive, and reflective of the diversity of our school communities and the broader society,” declared the board.

And therein lies the problem, because we all know who gets to decide what is relevant and inclusive: the progressive activists who utterly dominate schools and libraries, and who have a woke agenda to control what information and ideas are available to the young, malleable minds of their students.

CBC Toronto reviewed internal PDSB documents, which include a manual for the process titled “Weeding and Audit of Resource in the Library Learning Commons collection.” The documents lay out an “equitable curation cycle” for weeding, which it says was created to support Directive 18 from the Minister of Education based on a 2020 Ministry review and report on systematic discrimination within the PDSB. Directive 18 instructs the board to complete a diversity audit of schools:

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