ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – In light of recent reports of controversial books found in the children’s section of Abilene Public Libraries, City Council will be discussing potential major changes to some of the library’s policies, seeing more responsibility fall on parents.

Local parent, Kaitlyn Addison said she and her little ones visit the Abilene Public Library in the Mall of Abilene quite frequently – nearly three times a week, to be exact.

Addison homeschools her three children, Maddy, Axl and Jason, who have all seemed to find their enjoyment in reading early on in their lives.

Maddy loves all books, but spooky books, like Goosebumps, are her favorite. Jason and Axl both shared a chair and read a superhero book Monday, with Jason later picking up a picture book on 8-bit video games.

“Spending time in the library is a huge thing I utilize,” Addison said.

Addison said she grew up reading, passing that love of books and gaining knowledge onto her kids. However, she said she doesn’t want to force that on them.

“I don’t want to ever impose my beliefs onto them,” Addison said. “Reading has actually been a wonderful thing, because they can choose what they want and they can explore.” 

As concerns arose throughout the community about age-appropriate books in the children’s section, Addison used it as a teaching moment.

As a parent, Addison said she always monitors where and what her children are reading, but said if they want to explore something new, then they should be able to have that freedom. She said she doesn’t want them to feel restricted in learning something new.

It’s a similar sentiment shared with the City of Abilene as they respond to community feedback. That’s why they are presenting a new Parental Responsibility Policy before City Council in the near future.

The current Safe Child Policy, listed by the library is as follows:

“To keep the library a safe place for our children, children, under the age of 8 must be accompanied by an adult. Children under the age of 15 must be collected by a responsible family member aged 16 or older at closing. If no one appears to collect the child, staff will contact the Abilene Police Department for a welfare check, and to return the child to the appropriate custodian(s).”

The new Parental Responsibility Policy will replace and expand on the existing policy, placing more responsibility to what the children see/read on the parents.

“There is a partnership there between the parents and the library,” City Manager Robert Hanna said. “We want to make sure we can equip the parents with the tools they need to make educated decisions for their children.” 

The new policy could read something like this, according to the presentation going before City Council:

“Parents and legal guardians are responsible for their children’s behavior, safety and welfare while their children are in the library or on library grounds, which includes their children’s access to library materials and electronic resources. The library requires that a parent, legal guardian or other responsible party accompany and directly supervise children under the age of 8.”

Hanna said the library will not limit children or young adults to the use of books in the library, nor will library staff determine what is age-appropriate for kids.

Hanna suggested that parents sit down, first and foremost, with their children to determine what material they can and cannot borrow in the library.

However, Hanna said they are developing tools for parents to use to help aid in the monitoring of material. For example, juvenile library cards will be in place for parents to go online and sign their children up for. Hanna said it would be an affirmative decision made by parents, and like a switch, would only allow kids to check out juvenile books from the library. If parents opt to not use the juvenile card, children will receive a regular library card.

Another aspect that could be changing, similarly to the juvenile cards; changes to the card catalogs will be in effect. Parents can go online, and check boxes off of categories they deem not suitable for their child to look at. Not only will that span in person, but will also work with the online catalogs, as well.

It’s all in an effort to protect kids from potentially inappropriate content in the library.

“The Parental Responsibility Policy, the resolution, and some of the staff initiated changes we’ve made, I hope, will indicate and show our commitment to empowering parents to make good decisions for their children,” Hanna explained.

As for Kaitlyn Addison, she confidently told KTAB/KRBC she is actively raising her children to make those right choices for themselves.

“For your children to be confident and open enough to learn new things and new ideologies is a good thing,” Addison said. “You hope you raise them up well enough that they have good discernment about things and have good judgment.” 

The Parental Responsibility Policy will go before City Council on Thursday, August 25th.