Six books by 'gender critical' authors to be returned to Yorkshire library shelves after 'incident' is investigated

Six books by gender critical authors removed from a council’s library shelves in the summer will be returned to them following a review of an incident.

Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Services, Ian Day, has completed his review of the incident, which sparked a social media storm.

He recommended the titles are replaced on the library shelves, in line with the current stock management policy.

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However, in returning the books to the shelves, the titles should not be promoted – that is, placed on a temporary display of similar related material, said Mr Day.

The new Halifax Library at the rear of the Piece HallThe new Halifax Library at the rear of the Piece Hall
The new Halifax Library at the rear of the Piece Hall

He was asked to review what happened and he has concluded they should not have been removed.

The books in question were still able to be ordered from the council’s library stores, but had been taken off the shelves.

This decision was taken at the conclusion of an internal human resources (HR) matter, says his report.

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Some councillors had raised questions about the issue at meetings of the full Calderdale Council.

In his executive summary, published on the council’s website, Mr Day found the recommendation to remove was contrary to guidance from CILIP (the UK’s library and information association), library managers and the council’s stock management policy.

The policy is approved by Cabinet and any deviation from it would have to be a decision taken by Cabinet and not one implemented by officers, he said.

“A belief that access to the books via the lending store would be equitable to loans from library shelves was inaccurate and is not borne out by lending data.

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“Whilst it is understood that some of the content may cause offence to some readers, the books do not warrant removal when assessed against the current stock management policy and professional guidance.

“It is also noted that the titles are readily available for purchase without restriction through book stores and on line and they are also available elsewhere in mainstream library stock,” said Mr Day.

Mr Day also said continued relocation to the lending store of the six titles would set a non-procedurally justified precedent that would be impossible to manage.

“This is evidenced by subsequent requests that have been made for the removal of other book titles from library shelves,” he said.

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Mr Day noted library managers did not agree with the recommendation to remove and had challenged the approach as a contravention to the stock management policy and professional guidance, but believed they could have further challenged the recommendation before implementing it.

A group of library staff who believed the recommendation to remove the books was a departure from policy and professional ethics complained and asked the six titles be returned to the open access shelves, said his report.

He also recommended the policy should be considered further by Cabinet.

Work should take place to review and update the stock management policy and this should be presented to Cabinet for consideration and approval before the end of March 2024, said Mr Day.