PELLA, Iowa — After an almost two-year battle between the Pella City Council and some residents over control of the content offered by the public library, voters may finally put an end to the dispute.
On election day, Pella residents will decide if the city council should have the authority to ban or restrict books inside the public library.
Resolution No. 6442 is the proposed ordinance that would limit the library Board of Trustees’ authority over library affairs and instead allow the city council to revise policies, rules, and regulations.
Back in late 2021, community members called to ban or restrict the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” and city councilmembers ultimately voted to keep the book in the adult section of the public library.
Months later, a rough draft of Resolution 6442 was proposed and rejected by the council and a petition with over 700 valid signatures was then submitted to the city clerk in May 2022 requesting a referendum for the ordinance.
Some community members say this ballot proposition is about preventing sexually explicit content from being available to minors.
“Can we at least have one safe place for innocent children to come look and not run into this kind of stuff? All we’re trying to do is protect the children,” said Pella resident Rick Phillips.
Others think that public libraries should not be ruled by a governing body.
The president of the Iowa Library Association previously said that Iowa had the second most library-adverse bills in the nation and they expect to see more in 2024.
“We do recognize that what affects one library affects us all, and as champions of intellectual freedom, and autonomy and access, the conversations are taking place statewide, and I think in some cases nationwide,” said ILA President, Sam Helmick.
Conversations surrounding library autonomy and intellectual freedom are particularly rooted in Iowa because the Library Bill of Rights was written in Des Moines.
As for the future of the Pella Public Library, that remains in voters’ hands. The Pella Public Library and the city council did not provide a statement following our requests.