WILLIAMSTON, Mich. — Williamston Community Schools plans to give every student a library card for the Capital Area District Library, but a few parents are concerned that the initiative will give children access to inappropriate reading material.
The Student Success Initiative will automatically enroll every student for a library card unless parents choose to opt out.
“Every students gets library access so they can check out up to three books, magazines or audio books and then they get access to our research databases as well,” said Capital Area District Libraries Executive Director Scott Duimstra.
Williamston is not the first district to use this program.
“Our first school was in Webberville," Duimstra said, "And then we moved it around to every school in the Ingham Intermediate School District and Williamston is the last school to come on board.”
Duimstra said the program aims to help students succeed academically.
“Any student that uses the library can reinforce what they need for school," Duimstra said. "That’s why we have up to three books, magazines or audio books and then research databases because any of those tools can help them do anything in their research in the classroom.”
At the last school board meeting, some parents spoke out against the initiative, saying it gives children access to inappropriate reading material.
Christine McThoren has a student at Williamston High School and said she finds it "highly disturbing" and handed out copies of the book "Gender Queer: A Memoir."
“If you got to look at that if a little child or any child looks at that they can’t unsee that okay? A parent might find out after they look at that,” McThoren said at the meeting.
Duimstra said he understands the concern some parents may have because the libraries offer a wide variety of material for all ages. He encourages parents to be active participants in their children's use of the library.
“The thing that we talk about for parents is be an active participant when your child uses the library and they’ll use the library how you want them to use it," Duimstra said. "What we found for students that are using the student success cards they’re using it for materials that they want to check out.”
Williamston Superintendent Adam Spina said this collaboration "provides an excellent opportunity for families who are interested in gaining access to resources that can assist students in their studies."
Parents will be able to access their students' library accounts online to monitor what books they check out.
Parents have until Oct. 29 to opt out. The program will launch in early November.