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A young girl reaches to pull a book off the shelves at the Indianapolis Public Library.

Source: (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The Hamilton East Public Library Board on Thursday afternoon voted to suspend the moving of specific books in its young adult section pending a future meeting about its Collection Development Policy.

Board member Michelle Payne said, “We need to take responsibility and accountability” on the language and requirements of the policy.

The board oversees the libraries in Fishers and Noblesville.

Board member Tiffanie A.H. Ditlevson, who also is a Republican candidate in the November election for an at-large seat on the Fishers City Council, moved to suspend the movement of materials until a meeting about the policy can be held. That motion passed unanimously.

Ditlevson said, “I would like to suspend that section of the Collection Development Policy that deals with reviewing and moving materials until we can have a meeting to hash this out. I think this is the closest we’ve come to collaboration in the last eight months and I am really happy to hear this kind of conversation.”

Edra Waterman, director of the libraries, asked for clarification, and the board said anyone can file a reconsideration form to flag books in the young adult section, and they would be moved to the adult section until the board updates the policy.

Waterman asked, “So just to clarify from an operational standpoint, there is a paragraph in the policy that relates to placement, age-appropriate placement. Are we suspending that until we figure it out?”

Ditlevson replied, “Yes.”

Waterman answered, “Because we already make decisions.”

“Let your (book-reviewing) readers know they are paused,” Ditlevson said.

“We will probably pause them,” Waterman said.

“Yes,” Ditlevson said.

“And we will go ahead and do our work the way that we always have? And the reconsideration process is still in the policy?” Waterman asked.

“Correct,” Ditlevson said.

“So if anybody finds anything in the meantime, we can put that through it?” Waterman asked.

Ditlevson confirmed.

The board had to set up an overflow room for its Thursday afternoon meeting to discuss the policy.

The updated policy has been under scrutiny from community members after it was revised in December 2022 and reviewed this year in January and April. The policy became more widely discussed after Indiana author John Green posted about the policy calling out the decision to move his most popular novel The Fault in Our Stars from the young adult section to the adult section.

Board member Ray Maddalone at the Thursday meeting said the book did not need to be moved because the sex scene in the “young adult” novel was not was not explicit and instead vague.  He made a motion to move the book back to the Teen Zone, but later withdrew his motion.

Waterman, the libraries’ director, told the board at the meeting that she disagrees that the discussion of sex in this novel is not explicit enough to require it to be moved to the adult section.

Waterman said Thursday that the policy is too vague. “Give us a clear policy and we will do our best to implement it.”

The Collection Development Policy requires strict attention be given to nudity, alcohol and drug use, profanity, violence, and sexual content before a book is placed in the children or teen sections. If a book discusses any of those topics it is then reshelved in the adult section.

The policy overrides recommendations from the publishers, authors and librarians on where to shelve books.

The library board’s nominating committee met at 2 p.m., an hour before the board meeting. After a brief discussion, the committee decided to suggest new board officers: Tiffanie Ditlevson for president, Craig Siebe for vice president, Maddalone for secretary and Andre Miksha for assistant secretary. The library board has seven members.

Laura Aldering is a library board member who is also a member of the Noblesville School Board. The school board had appointed Aldering to the library board, but, on Aug. 15, voted to replace her with Noblesville teacher Bill Kenley. Aldering’s term on the board will end Saturday.

During Thursday’s library board nominating committee meeting, Aldering suggested Ditlevson replace her as president. Maddalone suggested board members Andre Miksha or Craig Siebe as president.