Ashland Public Library moves Thursday meeting to Sheriff's Annex due to expected crowd

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ASHLAND − Overwhelming interest in recent Ashland Public Library meetings has led the Board of Trustees to change Thursday's public meeting to a new location.

The 4:30 p.m. meeting will be held in the Ashland County Sheriff's Annex, 1205 East Main St.

"We greatly appreciate the recent outpouring of interest in library business, and we want to make our meeting as accessible as possible," board President Sandra Hedlund Tunnell said in an email to the Times-Gazette newsroom announcing the change. "It is important to the board to allow as many people as possible to hear our meeting in person, while not interfering with the use of the library by its patrons."

Concerns raised by some in Ashland community over books they call porn

A large crowd attends the July 14 meeting of the Ashland Public Library Board of Trustees to raise concerns about a handful of books they believe should not be readily available to children. TOM E. PUSKAR/ASHLAND TIMES-GAZETTE
A large crowd attends the July 14 meeting of the Ashland Public Library Board of Trustees to raise concerns about a handful of books they believe should not be readily available to children. TOM E. PUSKAR/ASHLAND TIMES-GAZETTE

More than 200 people attended the July meeting held in the Stockwell Room of the library. Many gathered outside before the meeting started to pray or to discuss several books some in the religious community have deemed inappropriate for children.

Church pastors and some in their congregations have objected to books containing nude drawings, illustrations and information about sexual intercourse, puberty and menstruation. Calling the materials pornographic, they've asked that the books be shelved where they're not readily available to children.

The books, which the library considers health reference materials, are housed in an area typically visited by older teens and adults, the library has said.

The issue was first raised publicly at a June meeting. The following month the meeting room overflowed with visitors.

"I can get more people here if I need to," the Rev. John Bouquet, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, said at the July meeting. "I can put 1,000 people here. We have the ability to do that."

Letters supporting the library praised the board for "standing strong in the face of intense orchestrated public pressure," and encouraged residents to attend the Aug. 11 meeting to "show your support for freedom and liberty."

Reach Ashland Times-Gazette by email at newsroom@times-gazette.com

This article originally appeared on Ashland Times Gazette: Ashland Public Library moves board meeting amid more book discussion