South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

Mehlville Board of Education reviews library policies, will review classroom libraries


The regulation of library books is a hot topic in school districts across the country, and Mehlville is taking preemptive measures to regulate classroom libraries.

During the Mehlville Board of Education meeting Dec. 16, the board learned of the polished vetting of library books and non-regulation of classroom libraries.

Across Mehlville School District libraries, there are 92,569 books, with about 23,000 checked out each month. The books are all chosen by librarians under board policy — books are judged as a whole and should contribute to critical thinking and showcase all sides of an issue.

Classroom libraries are private collections of books within classrooms that are not regulated by the district. These can be extra copies of books, supplemental materials or books for entertainment purposes.

Board Director Jean Pretto suggested the board look into some sort of regulation regarding classroom libraries because of the level of risk involved with unregulated books being available to students.

“I’m not pointing any fingers but I think it just leaves us open to some risk,” Pretto said. “The other thing of course is protecting the teacher.”

Director of Personalized Learning and Instructional Design Sadie Lewis said there is value anytime library or book policies are reviewed to vet books, so looking at classroom libraries could be beneficial.

“When it comes to telling teachers that they have to vet this or do this … I think there is a much larger conversation to be had than me just saying ‘Yeah, I think that’s great,’” Lewis said.

Lewis said classroom libraries are more closely related to what a building principal allows and each teacher’s teaching style, versus the district’s library policy.

A large reason classroom libraries exist is to give students something to do during any free time in class and Superintendent Chris Gaines said part of the district’s ESSER funds have gone to providing age appropriate reading to classrooms. At the elementary level, “book boxes” with curated reading level books for each student are created for guided reading in class.

The board motioned to address books being admitted to classroom libraries in the future and the motion was approved 6-1. Board Director Patrick McKelvey was the lone no vote after highlighting his positive experiences with classroom libraries in middle school.

“Most of the books on the shelves were also in the library but they weren’t vetted,” McKelvey said. “I had a teacher … and in some cases I was reading the same copy of a book he had, so it was special he had that in his classroom library.”

More to Discover