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Britt City Council Learns It May Soon Be in Charge of its Public Library

City councils would be able to strip Iowa public library boards of their authority and take over management of their city’s library under legislation that’s cleared an Iowa House subcommittee. City councils would be able to hire or fire the library’s director and decide what books should be in the library. The bill is a response to a failed effort to get a graphic novel removed from the shelves in Pella’s library. Pella’s city council held a city-wide vote which is allowed under current state law that would have put the council in charge of the library, but the referendum narrowly failed last November.

Locally, area libraries such as the Britt Public Library are not in favor of the change. Head Librarian Linda Friedow addressed the somewhat shocked Britt City Council in a recent meeting about the possible change.

Meanwhile in Des Moines, Mary Timmer of Pella addressed legislators during a hearing on Thursday.

Several library directors and members of local library boards urged legislators to defeat the bill. Wade Dooley, a farmer from Albion, is chairman of the board of trustees for the public library in his town of fewer than 500 residents.

Amanda Brewer is director of the Harlan Community Library.

Sarah Rosenblum worked at libraries in three other states before being named the Marshalltown Public Library director in late 2011.

Republican Representative Carter Nordman of Adel says he’s heard privately from members of city councils as well as city administrators who have complaints about their public libraries that go beyond debates over books and content.

The other Republican on the subcommittee said she had reservations about the bill but voted to send it on to the House Local Government Committee to continue the conversation. The Democrat who served on the subcommittee said the bill is a bad idea and there’s no reason for it.


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