As we reported in Publishers Weekly, a bid by a coalition of booksellers, publishers, authors, and advocates to block Texas's new book rating law from taking effect on September 1 was heard by a federal judge in Austin on Friday. But the fight over HB 900 is not the only concerning development for libraries in Texas as the new school year gets underway.

The Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that school libraries in the Fort Worth Independent School District "are inaccessible to students for the first two weeks of school" as officials review book titles. "Amid this process, more than 100 titles have been removed from shelves, and the former director of library media services has switched roles," the paper reports. "The changes in library services and leadership come about two weeks after the Tarrant County chapter of Citizens Defending Freedom announced an independent audit of Fort Worth ISD’s middle and high school libraries, which found more than 100 'age-inappropriate' books. The nonprofit organization, endorsed by conservative figures such as Charlie Kirk of Turning Point USA and Mike Lindell of MyPillow, has been vocal in book debates."

In Houston, the New York Times has more on the controversial decision to fire school librarians and turn libraries into spaces for disruptive students. "The decision to fire librarians and effectively close libraries in some of the city’s poorest schools has been the most contentious yet made by a new set of Houston public school leaders who were imposed on the district and its 187,000 mostly Black and Hispanic students this year by the administration of Gov. Greg Abbott," the report notes. "The new state-run administration said it hoped to create a 'new education system' in elementary and middle schools that feed into poor-performing high schools."

And the San Antonio Report looks at the cuts that have left fewer than a third of the schools in the district with certified librarians. “It sends mixed messages when the school board says our top priority is reading, and you eliminate librarian positions,” one administrator told reporters. “You have a reading specialist, but the reading specialist is not trained to work in a library.”

The Missouri Independent reports that St. Charles county council this week approved a resolution "scolding" the library for "political activism." The resolution reportedly comes after a patron complained to the city council about "a worker with a goatee, makeup, nail polish, and earrings," which touched off a series of complaints. The resolution, which isn't legally enforceable, is filled with whoppers, but a few things stand out. For one, it recommends the library cut ties with the Urban Library Council, which it says "advocates for, and promotes, a progressive, left political agenda." More chillingly, it asks the St. Charles City-County Library board to instruct the library's CEO Jason Kuhl to be "politically neutral." Apparently, the council was upset that Kuhl linked to a Fast Company article about right wing book bans in libraries on his personal social media. The resolution asks the board to "take disciplinary action" if Kuhl fails to comply.

HuffPo has more on the firing of longtime Campbell County, Wyoming, library director Terri Lesley. "The challenges to Lesley’s oversight of the library followed a strategic track," the report observes. "Conservative activists, often supported by Republican legislators, have launched an all-out war against LGBTQ+ people. Under the guise of parental rights, they have pushed to remove books from schools and censor educators—and along the way, public libraries have also come under attack―the latest front in culture war that is attempting to remove the existence of LGBTQ people and their experiences from public life, via tools like laws that dictate what teachers can say about gender identity and prohibiting transgender kids from playing sports at school."

The library, which has occupied the same modest brick building a block off Main Street for 86 years...could shutter because of a yearlong dispute over the placement of, at first, one book, then a dozen and now well over 100, all dealing with gender, sexuality, or race.

The Alabama Political Reporter notes that a move to fund the Autauga-Prattville Public Library at current levels has angered a local right wing group "in the midst of an unprecedented book challenging campaign." The group has reportedly been "challenging the inclusion of certain books in the children’s section that include gender ideology and LGBTQ representation, as well as books in the young adult section that contain some sexual content," the report notes, "warning officials that they should take action or face consequences at the ballot box."

From the Seattle Times, voters in one library district will soon decide whether to shut down its library over disputes about LGBTQ books. "Book battles are raging across the nation, but none have carried the kind of stakes as the one here in Dayton, a one-stoplight farming community in the southeastern corner of Washington," the report notes. "The library, which has occupied the same modest brick building a block off Main Street for 86 years, is at risk not because of a lack of funding or a lack of demand for its services. Instead, it could shutter because of a yearlong dispute over the placement of, at first, one book, then a dozen and now well over 100, all dealing with gender, sexuality, or race."

From Indiana, a follow-up to an item we included last week, the Indianapolis Star reports that Hamilton East Public Library Board president Laura Alerding has been removed from the library board after pushing a policy change that saw the library move John Green's bestselling book The Fault in Our Stars to the adult section, drawing a swift backlash from residents and a rebuke from from the author. "Alerding was appointed to the HEPL board after being elected to the school board in 2020. Her removal threatens the board's conservative majority, which last year saw four seats turn over, providing the votes to make changes to the library's shelving policy," the report notes.

From Book Riot, Kelly Jensen starts her weekly censorship roundup with the chilling idea that AI might help book banners. "How do schools read every book in the collection and make a decision whether or not it is age appropriate or contains 'sex acts?' Mason City School District (MCSD) found themselves in this very position and turned to an unexpected source to determine the status of books in their collection: AI. With the use of artificial intelligence, the school district found 19 books to be out of compliance with the new law and removed the titles."

Two further articles of interest from the New York Times this week. Elizabeth Harris profiles Skyhorse publisher Tony Lyons, who fights censorship by publishing books dropped by other publishers—or deemed too controversial for them to handle. "Hachette canceled the publication of a memoir in 2020 by Woody Allen, called Apropos of Nothing, in the face of allegations that Allen molested his adopted daughter when she was a child," the report notes. "Skyhorse picked up the memoir and published it weeks later. The book became a New York Times bestseller." (The book has sold 23,023 print copies to date, according to Circana BookScan.)

And also in the New York Times, with a judgment entered in the Internet Archive's copyright infringement case this week, David Streitfeld reviews what's at stake in the case and, more broadly, in a digital future in which libraries cannot buy and own and preserve books and other resources. "New technology means culture is delivered on demand, but not all culture," he writes. "When Netflix shipped DVDs to customers, there were about 100,000 to choose from. Streaming, which has a different economics, has reduced that to about 6,600 U.S. titles. Most are contemporary. Only a handful of movies on Netflix were made between 1940 and 1970."

And finally, from CNN, news that the Brooklyn Public Library's Jay-Z library cards have boosted library sign-ups. "The initiative, which ends later this month, has already resulted in 14,000 new library accounts," a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library told CNN. “The community’s enthusiastic response to this exhibition is a testament to Jay-Z’s immense impact,” Linda E. Johnson, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, added.

The Week in Libraries is a weekly opinion and news column. News, tips, submissions, questions or comments are welcome, and can be submitted via email. Previous columns can be viewed here.