(NEW YORK) — Llano County, Texas, County Commissioners are holding a special meeting this Thursday to vote on whether to close their public library system. weeks after a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that library officials had to return 12 books to circulation that were pulled from shelves. The ruling came as part of a suit alleging that removing the books violated the First Amendment. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman stated that the plaintiffs in the case had met the burden of proof that removing the books was likely unconstitutional, a form of viewpoint or content discrimination.

In response, Kasey Meehan, program director, Freedom to Read project at PEN America, issued the following statement:

“The proposal to close the Llano library system is not only an end-run to avoid complying with the District Court’s decision; it’s a vindictive response to the situation that is deeply undemocratic. Public libraries are not meant to serve particular ideological factions; they are meant to serve diverse communities, providing access to a wide range of knowledge and ideas. Closing the library system would be a violation of the core tenets of a free and open society. It would send an alarming message that county officials should have the power to pick and choose what books people can read, and to shutter a public institution if they get any pushback. PEN America strongly opposes closing the Llano County Library System, a move that would deny access to thousands of books and diminish the freedom to read for Llano County’s 21,000 residents.”

The 12 books include:

  • “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents” by Isabel Wilkerson
  • “They Called Themselves the K.K.K.: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • “Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen” by Jazz Jennings
  • “Spinning” by Tillie Walden
  • “In the Night Kitchen” by Maurice Sendak
  • “It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies, Growing Up, Sex and Sexual Health” by Robbie H. Harris
  • “My Butt is So Noisy!” “I Broke My Butt!” and “I Need a New Butt!” by Dawn McMillan
  • “Larry the Farting Leprechaun,” “Gary the Goose and His Gas on the Loose,” “Freddie the Farting Snowman” and “Harvey the Heart Has Too Many Farts” by Jane Bexley
  • “Shine” by Lauren Myracle
  • “Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale” by Lauren Myracle
  • “Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” by Isabel Quintero
  • “Freakboy” by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. To learn more visit PEN.org 

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, [email protected], 201-247-5057