Kitchener-Waterloo

What books should stay in Waterloo regional school libraries? Parents want their say

As the Waterloo Regional District School Board begins to review the books it keeps in school libraries, parents and trustees say they need to have input on what goes — and why.

Cindy Watson wants a full report on the process as the Waterloo Region School Board reviews its libraries

The framework will include methods for keeping school libraries up-to-date. (Sam Juric/CBC)

As the Waterloo Regional District School Board begins to review the books it keeps in school libraries, parents and trustees say they need to have input on what goes — and why.

The framework for the review doesn't mention removing books for moral reasons, but some parents have approached trustees to say they're concerned about the possibility of censorship.

Brad Fewster has two kids in school in the Waterloo region — and he says he's concerned that there hasn't yet been wide public consultation about the possibility of getting rid of books.

"If this goes anywhere beyond outdated books... they really need to be transparent about it. I think that critical thinking is a really key skill that students need to develop in the public school system," Fewster said. "If it goes to a point where literature is being pre-filtered beyond new revisions, that's going to invariably reduce elements of critical thought.

Fewster says if school libraries start dropping books for subjective reasons, he'd consider putting his kids in private school. 

Waterloo Region District School Board Trustee, Cindy Watson, will have her motion for a report voted on in the new year.

A call for transparency

School trustee Cindy Watson has put forward a motion asking for a report on what the review process will look like, who will be involved, and what books will be considered. 

"We don't know the process, and I think it's important to have those conversations in the public," said Watson, noting that parents have raised concerns. "They don't want a process that is behind closed doors, where texts are being removed and it's being decided ... what books our students can read."

The Waterloo Region District School Board it's updating its framework for how schools can keep their libraries up to date. 

The Waterloo Region District School Board is embarking on a review of its school library collections, and parents are worried it will lead to the banning of books. Trustee Cindy Watson tells The Morning Edition host Craig Norris she thinks this should be a public process, that includes parental input.

It will be basing that framework off the CREW method, and the MUSTIE criteria, processes that are already used in public libraries. 

CREW stands for continuous review, evaluation, and weeding, which is the ongoing process of getting rid of books, which prevents the buildup of damaged or unused books. 

To decide what must go, librarians use the MUSTIE criteria, which stands for misleading, ugly, superseded, trivial, irrelevant and elsewhere. This would be used if a book is deteriorating, contains misinformation, is outdated or if the information is easily found online. 

Watson's motion for a full report on the process will be voted on in the new year. 

Consultation

The chairperson for the board says that there's still plenty of opportunity for parents to provide input on the books they think should or shouldn't be on shelves. 

"If anyone is concerned about specific titles, they can provide that input during the consultation process when it begins," said Weston. 

Weston said she's uncertain when that consultation will happen, but suggested that updates will appear on the school board website.

The review process could take two to three years, she said. 

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