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Llano County Library Advisory Board discusses OverDrive access

Llano County Library Advisory Board

About 30 people attended the Llano County Library Advisory Board’s meeting Monday, Jan. 24, when members discussed topics such as subcommittee formation and the county’s subscription to OverDrive, which provides online access to eBooks and other materials. Staff photo by Brigid Cooley

Members of the new Llano County Library Advisory Board met Monday, Jan. 24, to discuss library business, including the county’s online reading services. About 30 residents attended the meeting in the Kingsland Branch Library, which was the board’s first public meeting since the Llano County Commissioners Court reorganized the board earlier in January. 

Although no action was taken during the two-hour meeting, members listened to public comments and discussed topics such as what subcommittees to form and whether to reinstate OverDrive, the county’s online reading service, as well as possible alternatives. 

OverDrive is an online portal that provides library patrons across the state access to eBooks, magazines, and other content. The county’s subscription was suspended by the Commissioners Court in December of last year when a review of children’s and teens content was conducted. 

The Llano County Library System includes three facilities: the Llano County Library, the Kingsland Branch Library, and the Lakeshore Branch Library. In December, the Commissioners Court directed library staff to close the facilities for three days for a complete review of books for children and teens to ensure the materials were placed in age-appropriate sections.

The online service, which costs the county $3,000 annually for use, does not provide a number of content filters, which has caused concern about types of books that children and teens can access while using it. 

During the public comments section of the meeting, resident Rose White expressed the importance of providing the resource to adults, noting that many adult patrons, including the elderly and those with mobility issues, often use it as an alternative to having to come into the library each time they’d like to check out a book. 

“(OverDrive access) means a lot to me,” White said. “It’s something I can do at home because it’s difficult for me to get out.” 

County commissioners had the option to reinstate or unsubscribe from the online service during their regular meeting Monday, held just a few hours before the board’s meeting, but chose to table the item until the board could provide a recommendation. 

One possible option is to restrict OverDrive access from library card holders under the age of 18, Llano County Library System Director Amber Milum explained to the board. This can be done through the backend of the library’s online system. 

“The children will still be allowed to use their cards to check out materials, but even if they try to access it through the app or our system, they will not be allowed to get onto OverDrive,” Milum said. 

Board members chose to table the discussion and action until the next meeting, which is scheduled from 3-5 p.m. Feb. 10 at the Llano County Library, 102 E. Haynie St. in Llano. Until then, members will continue to research options.

2 thoughts on “Llano County Library Advisory Board discusses OverDrive access

  1. As the director of a public library, I would like to make the following comments. A library’s mission is service to its community. One form this takes is providing materials in all forms to educate, inform, provide platforms for discussions, entertain, and so much more. In denying particular materials, a community’s right to read, learn, and have equal access to information are negated. Many individuals use libraries because they do not have the economic resources to purchase these materials for themselves or their families. By placing restrictions on what a library offers, the restricting body is denying less advantaged individuals equal access to materials. Read that again, the restricting body is denying less advantaged individuals equal access to materials. It is not the public body’s right or responsibility to limit what information an individual has access to and chooses to read. This is not the library’s responsibility, either. The library’s responsibility is to make equal access to all information available to all. It is the parents responsibility to limit what their minor children read. That is done by attentive and responsible parenting. If a parent has an issue with what their child is reading, it is the parents’, and the parents only, responsibility to monitor. How? Go with your children to the library, have meaningful discussions with your children about what they may or may not read, monitor their use of ebooks and the devices used to access ebooks. If a restricting body thinks what a library provides is inappropriate for a certain age group, then they would also need to rule that all smart phones and internet access be barred for these individuals. That would be an infringement on personal rights. The exact same infringement you are wanting to place on access to library materials. This is a slippery slope that has no end. Parent your children; don’t let a public body make those decisions for you. It is no one else’s responsibility. It IS the responsibility of a library in a free society to provide information with equal access for all.

    1. I agree with Kathleen. Libraries serve everyone from cradle to grave and try to have material and resources to represent all viewpoints because everyone in a taxing district pays for the running of the library. Public libraries are not public schools and it is assumed that parents will take a much more active role in actually helping children select materials. Perhaps if a parent has concerns they can read and discuss the content together. I did this with my own child and we both learned so much about each other and our individual views in the process. I value that libraries offer a wide and inclusive range of materials with ample options to explore ideas for myself and my child. I would urge the administration to let democracy reign in the library and stop trying to micromanage how and what people read. Leave it to the individual.

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