In May of 2023 the Iowa Legislature passed Senate File 496 which, in part, requires all public school libraries in Iowa to remove any books with a drawing or written description of a sex act. With no list of books provided by the state nor specific guidance from the Department of Education, each district in Iowa was tasked with developing their own process to interpret and implement the law.  

Decorah Community School District decided the best approach was to form a committee for this work. The following people serve on the committee: Tim Cronin, superintendent; Brad Hurst, Decorah High School principal; Shannon Horton, teacher librarian; Liz Fox, instructional coach; Rebecca Newhouse, Luther College instructor; and Cindy Goodner, school board president.

The committee began their work by reading and discussing the written law, as well as consulting with the district’s attorney. An initial list of titles to review was compiled using the Des Moines Register’s database of library books removed from Iowa school districts that had already made and reported their decisions. 

So far, 29 titles have been removed from the Decorah High School Library that are considered non-compliant according to section 702.17 of SF 496, definitions of a sex act. In addition, the committee has begun to consider books from various curricula that may not be in the library collection but still need to be reviewed. 

A comprehensive record of all titles removed or being reviewed by the committee is linked here:  DCSD Books Removed (as of 12/04/2023)

Shannon Horton, teacher librarian stated, “The committee has made a sincere effort to comply with the law and will continue to meet as books come to our attention. These were difficult decisions to make as all books in our collection have been previously vetted using professional reviews and consideration.”

Superintendent Tim Cronin added, “I appreciate the staff for their dedication to this task. This is not easy or enjoyable; however, it is important.”

Shannon Horton in DHS Library

Shannon Horton, teacher librarian, at DHS library