Stutsman, Alfred Dickey libraries will not close to review 'explicit sexual material'

No roll call vote was taken due to the lack of a second.

JSSP Books

JAMESTOWN — A motion to close Alfred Dickey Public or Stutsman County libraries for a week for staff to review books for “explicit sexual material” failed due to a lack of a second at the James River Valley Library Board of Directors meeting.

Joe Rector, library system director, said Wednesday, May 10, that the staff would comply and meet the March 31, 2024, deadline of the passed House Bill 1205, which says “a public library may not maintain in its children’s collection inventory books that contain explicit sexual material.”

HB 1205 also makes it mandatory for each public library to develop a policy and process for reviewing library collections, including the removal or relocation of explicit sexual material; the development of a book collection that is appropriate for the age and maturity levels of individuals who may access the materials; to receive, evaluate and respond to a request from an individual regarding the removal or relocation of one or more of the books or other materials in the library collection containing explicit sexual material; and to periodically review the library collection to ensure the library collection does not contain explicit sexual material in the children’s collection.

Rector suggested closing Alfred Dickey Public Library for a week in late July while Stutsman County Library remained open and vice versa to review the books.

“Our folks are going to have to sit and read through quite a bit of particular teen items,” he said. “They are going to have to page through the kids’ items. It’s going to take time, and they are going to be sitting at the desks even when we are open for everybody, they are still going to be paging through and making sure.”


Board member Gail Martin said she wants to hear from the attorney in California who is representing North Dakota librarians and board trustees at no cost as part of a class action lawsuit against HB 1205. The attorney, who is originally from Bismarck but now located in Los Angeles, is from Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and specializes in First Amendment cases.

“I wouldn’t put a dime on this right now until we hear back from the attorney in California,” she said. “I wouldn’t close. I wouldn’t do it.”

She said she appreciates Rector for wanting to review the books and that library staff will be very careful on all future orders of books.

“To sit here and look through I don’t know how many thousands of items on a week we shut down our patrons, I don’t think that was the intention of the guys in Bismarck,” she said.

Rector also discussed revisions to the library system’s policy on challenging materials. The board took no action on the policy since the library system’s attorney needs to review the proposed revisions due to the passage of HB 1205.

Pending review by the library system’s attorney and board approval, revisions include defining who can challenge materials, adding the Library Bill of Rights of the American Library Association and needing a supermajority vote (five of seven) of library board members to remove or relocate the material.

In other business, Rector told the board that the library system’s insurance company, North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund, still has not heard back from the insurance adjuster who inspected the water damage at Alfred Dickey.

Alfred Dickey was closed temporarily in December after a burst pipe from a staff restroom caused water damage in the library. The children’s library in the basement of Alfred Dickey had about an inch of water and about a quarter-inch of water was discovered around the circulation desk on the main level. The burst pipe happened sometime during a winter storm in December when the library was closed.


Rector said the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund told him that the library system can start submitting invoices for work that was already done for reimbursement. He said he was given permission by the insurance company to seek bids for any other repairs due to the water damage.

He also said the insurance company will reimburse each book that is replaced separately and reimburse the library an additional $2,800.

The library board also went into an executive session to discuss with real estate agents its negotiating position for several properties that could be purchased for a new library citing North Dakota Century Code 44-04-19.2 and 44-04-19.1(9). No action was taken and a contract with a potential real estate agent needs to be reviewed by the library system’s attorney before the board can approve it.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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