In an effort to promote “inclusivity,” a Canadian school district has removed all books published before the year 2008 from all of its libraries.
According to the Daily Caller, the actions taken by the Peel School District in Mississauga, Ontario were in response to a provincial directive from the minister of education ordering a greater focus on “equity.”
“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.
The Peel District School Board (PDSB) subsequently issued a statement defending its decision, saying that the removal of such books “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 school board continued, adding that older books will remain in the libraries if they are determined to be “accurate, serve the curriculum, align with board initiatives, and are responsive to student interest and engagement.”
But the district’s decision has been widely criticized by parents and students alike. Tom Ellard, a parent in the district and the founder of Libraries Not Landfills, asked the question of “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.”
Another member of Libraries Not Landfills, Dianne Lawson, pointed out that some of the books removed as a result of the purge included Anne Frank’s “The Diary of a Young Girl” and the children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
In response to the backlash, PDSB Chairman David Green said that the district has since paused its purging of library books, in order to take more time to work out the process and the criteria for which books are to be removed.
“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,” said Green.