A school district in Canada has reportedly removed all books published before 2008 in an effort to ensure that the library books available to students are sufficiently inclusive, according to a report from CBC.
Peel School District in Mississauga, Ontario, has weeded out books in their libraries in what parents, students and community members have called an “inconsistent approach” to a new equity-based provincial directive disseminated by the minister of education last spring, according to CBC News. (RELATED: Top Librarian Leadership May Not Want ‘Pornographic’ Books Removed From School Libraries)
“The Board shall evaluate books, media and all other resources currently in use for teaching and learning English, History and Social Sciences for the purpose of utilizing resources that are inclusive and culturally responsive, relevant and reflective of students, and the Board’s broader school communities,” the directive states, as reported by CBC News.
Reina Takata, a sophomore at the Peel’s Erindale Secondary School, told CBC that school staff told students “if the shelves look emptier right now it’s because we have to remove all books [published] prior to 2008.”
I certainly hope it’s not true, as CBC suggests, that Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl has been removed from Peel District School Board libraries as a result of their “equitable curation” process. https://t.co/5kwK7KMyVs
— Steven Chase (@stevenchase) September 13, 2023
The PDSB maintains that the new weeding-out process is to ensure that books are inclusive and promote equity, telling CBC the latest purge was completed in June and “has always been a part of teacher/librarian responsibilities within PDSB and at school boards across the country.”
“Books published prior to 2008 that are damaged, inaccurate, or do not have strong circulation data (are not being checked out by students) are removed,” the board told CBC. The board further clarified that damaged books with strong circulation numbers will be replaced regardless of the publication date and otherwise older titles can remain on the library shelves provided they are “accurate, serve the curriculum, align with board initiatives and are responsive to student interest and engagement.”
“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,” the board concluded, according to the outlet.
PDSB parent and founder of Libraries Not Landfills questioned the school board’s methods. “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. 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,” he argued, as reported by CBC.
Dianne Lawson, another member of Libraries not Landfills, told the outlet the weeding-out process had removed books such as “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank and the children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” from the school’s library shelves.
“I can’t find any sedition in it, or any reason why you would pull this book,” she said of the Eric Carle classic, per CBC.
Trustee and chair of the board, David Green, told the outlet that trustees of the board have since paused the weeding-out processes until they could get a better understanding of what needs to be done. In May, a motion was passed that any book purged during the “anti-racist and inclusive audit” portion of the process would need to have a documented reason for its removal.
As for the removal of all books published prior to 2008, Green indicated the board has asked the director of education for clarification, so they can ensure the proper process is followed, CBC reported.
“We have to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the students and not just rolling something out because we were told to do it,” Green told CBC.