Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct that the book was flagged during a preemptive search by the Huntsville-Madison Public Library, not the Alabama Public Library Service.
MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Read Me A Story, Stella is a children’s picture book about siblings reading books and building a doghouse together.
The book, written by Marie Louise Gay, recently came up during a keyword search done by the Huntsville-Madison Public Library while it was looking for books in its children’s selection that may contain what they deem “inappropriate” content or sexually explicit messaging.
The controversy over ‘banned books’ in public libraries has been a hot topic for several months, especially in Alabama. In response, the Alabama Public Library System (APLS) board approved the creation of an ‘inappropriate books’ list that will be compiled on public submissions. This prompted the library to look through their collection.
“The big topics seem to be sexually explicit books, so we focused on that and pulled in just a bunch of keywords so Stella just ended up on an unfiltered list,” Cindy Hewitt, Executive Director of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, told News 19.
“We noticed that one story, [Read Me A Story, Stella] with the author of the last name Gay, was on there and we went and read the story and found out that it wasn’t anything to do with sexually explicit content,” Dr. Marisa Allison, an organizer with the Read Freely Alabama Madison County chapter told News 19.
The Huntsville-Madison County Public Library said it never moved the book out of the children’s section. “‘Read Me A Story Stella‘ is on the shelf where it belongs. It has never been moved or deleted from our system,” said Hewitt.
Nothing regarding this list has been sent out to public libraries across the state at this time, according to the APLS.
“We’re librarians, we’re looking at our collection to make sure we’ve got things in age-appropriate places and that was never intended to be touched at all,” said Hewitt.
“We are aggrieved because there is a conflation between content that is LGTBQ+ related and sexually explicit content, and that is offensive and discriminatory and the citizens of Huntsville and Madison deserve better,” said Allison.
News 19 has requested access to the list approved by the APLS once it is completed.