‘I’m just without anything now’: Llano County suspends online library service

Hill Country

LLANO, Texas (KXAN) — Rose White has always been an avid reader.

These days, the Llano County resident of more than 25 years is often reading electronic books. She walks with the help of a cane and spends much of her time at home. She prefers logging on to the county’s virtual library service, she said, because it’s easier than making the trip to the main Llano County Library location.

“It’s just an enormous help to me,” she said.

Last Friday, White was shocked to find she no longer had access to that online service, called OverDrive.

“I’ve been reading in the library for years, so I had a thousand books on my list. That’s all gone,” she said. “I’m just without anything now.”

On Dec. 13, Llano County commissioners voted to suspend the OverDrive system during a discussion about library services.

“This action was taken to provide the County with an opportunity to thoroughly review and better understand the resources provided by OverDrive, the accessibility of those resources, and to explore what other online services are available,” Llano County Judge Ron Cunningham said to KXAN in a statement. “Once these options are evaluated, the Llano County Commissioners Court will make the determination as quickly as possible as to what online service may be provided in the future.”

At the same meeting, the commissioners voted to establish a 13-person library advisory board with members selected from each precinct in the county and one member selected by Judge Cunningham.

The commissioners also voted to close the library for three days for “inventory and proper cataloging of books.” According to the Texas Tribune, their staff will also be conducting a “thorough review” of every children’s book in the library and assessing their content. The Texas Tribune reports a new “young adults plus” section will be added to house books aimed at an older teen audience, separating them from books for younger readers.

The move comes as the content of books in several Central Texas school districts has come under fire by Williamson County commissioners.

Leila Green Little said she has spoken at several Llano County commissioners court meetings, urging them not to remove books from the library.

“That’s a big, big problem with far-reaching implications,” she told KXAN Monday night.

She’s particularly worried about the impact of losing the online library service. She said the OverDrive system gives her and other “rural citizens” access to thousands of books, audio books and magazines they wouldn’t otherwise have access to easily.

Counsel for the Texas State Library and Archives Commission said there is no accreditation criteria regarding what a library must have in its collection in terms of online content, but they do offer links to several resources on their website, including a program called TexShare, where libraries can share print and electronic materials.

White said she might begin looking into other online book services but hopes the county will reconsider.

“It’s a shame,” she said.

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