The Germantown Library has banned public use of its display case after locals spoke out against July's Pride-themed exhibit

After 20 years, the Germantown Community Library will no longer allow the public to decorate its display case.

The Library Board on Wednesday passed the new display, exhibit and posting policy.

The board began reconsidering the previous 20-year-old policy in July after a teenage Germantown resident's LGBTQ+ Pride-themed exhibit sparked controversy.

Residents questioned whether the Pride display broke the policy's rule against inappropriate and sexual content, setting off an ongoing debate over what should be permitted in the case.

While the display case is no longer open for public use, "the library welcomes suggestions for library displays of material and exhibits and may partner with organizations to develop content," the new policy says.

Individuals can still submit material to be posted on the library's bulletin boards or brochure kiosk. Priority will be given to materials from the library and local nonprofit organizations, the policy says.

The previous policy's guidelines were too vague, village attorney Brian Sadjak said at the board's August meeting. In the new policy, Sadjak helped to create more specific rules.

More: The Germantown Library's Pride-themed exhibit sparked controversy. Now, the board is considering banning public use of the display case.

The previous rules used blanket statements, he said, like "the display must be for the benefit of the community." Sadjak helped tighten up wording to avoid future backlash.

Library Director Trisha Smith said that at the beginning of the pandemic, requests to contribute to the public display case spiked to a point where staff couldn't keep up.

"There's only so much space," she said.

She hopes the staff's ability to regulate the display case will allow for more exhibits that reach the entire community.

"As a library, our goal is to serve our whole community," Smith said.

This month's display, titled "Tiny Art Show," follows the new policy's guidelines. Community members were asked to pick up art kits provided by the library to paint their own creations; 150 people of all ages contributed artwork, Smith said.

150 people of all ages contributed to the library's "Tiny Art Show" display case.
150 people of all ages contributed to the library's "Tiny Art Show" display case.

Smith said she wondered for the past couple of years, "Should we be allowing groups of individuals to display any kind of information?" The backlash after the Pride-themed display was the final push to revise the policy.

Quinn Clark can be emailed at Follow her on Twitter @Quinn_A_Clark.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Germantown Library bans public use of display case