Llano ISD Plans to Implement BookmarkED: Parent Sounds Alarm

Leila Green Little, parent & anti-censorship advocate, urges caution regarding Llano ISD school board's plans to implement BookmarkED.

Public Comment Delivered to Llano ISD School Board on 2/26/24- My name is Leila Green Little.  My children are the 5th generation in their family to attend Llano’s public schools, with two of their grandmothers having taught here, and ancestors with names carved into the concrete in front of the O. Henry building.  I love this public school system.  I received an excellent education here, and feel that my children are also receiving an excellent education from caring, hardworking teachers.  

I applaud our librarians, administrators, and school board, most especially for their adherence to policies and procedures in the face of attempted intimidation.  The ship is right, and I hope we don’t steer off course.  

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Watch Leila's public comment about BookmarkED (OnShelf), delivered to the Llano ISD school board on Monday, February 26, 2024.

About BookmarkED:  it was started just last year, and they quickly spent $80,000 on lobbyists.  The CEO testified in favor of pro-censorship SB13, and said, “we allow for the school district to kind of get ahead and understand what books are in their libraries that they may need to do something with .“  Website touts equipping “districts with tools to support and empower preemptive decisions.”  

Hmm, a brand new company, lobbying politicians, “do something with,” and “preemptive decisions”?  That concerns me.  

The CEO’s blog says BookmarkED will “provide [providing] valuable insights and recommendations” and students have “tailored recommendations awaiting them in libraries.”  This is frightening.  My children’s librarians and their teachers should guide book recommendations, not a for-profit, politically-motivated vendor.  

Currently, if a parent has concerns about their student’s access to certain books, there is already the opportunity for recourse.  One can view the online catalog, identify the objectionable books, contact the school, and ask for the individual student’s access to be limited.  

How much money would BookmarkED cost?  From what budget item would these funds come?  Would librarians still have the ability to curate their collections independent of this software, and please, can we enshrine that in policy?  

Advocates such as myself have been warning for years about the slippery slope, as nationwide we have seen unconstitutional legislation pass and be enjoined by the courts, bookshelves covered, librarians fired, and the cessation of new book purchases.  I am concerned that partnering with this vendor may mark the beginning of a slope for Llano ISD.  

To quote Kelly Jensen of BookRiot, “Rather than investing in technology that does not report where it gets its information, perhaps the problems of book bans could be best solved with the tools already at the school’s disposal:  its professionally trained and experienced staff.”   

I also hope this board will vote to decline to adopt a policy authorizing chaplains.  

I thank you so much for your consideration.  

Listen to the presentation BookmarkED representatives gave to the Llano ISD School Board on 2-26-24.


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About Leila Green Little

Leila Green Little is a rural mom and a graduate student in library sciences enrolled at the University of North Texas.  She has been fighting against censorship in her local public library system since 2021.  In 2022, she and six friends became plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit Leila Green Little, et. al, v. Llano County, et. al, which resulted in a preliminary injunction requiring Llano County to return censored books to the catalog and shelves of the public library.  The case is ongoing, awaiting ruling from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.  She and her 6 co-plaintiffs were the recipients of the 2023 Sam G. Whitten Award for Intellectual Freedom, given by the Texas Library Association.  In addition, she has advocated against pro-censorship legislation at the state capitol, and has spoken at national, state, and local conferences about her experience.  Previously, Ms. Little earned her master’s degree from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and had a career as a speech-language pathologist specializing in working with patients with head and neck cancer.  She likes to read banned books, and lives on a cattle ranch with her husband of 18 years and their kids. 

book bans censorship BookmarkED school libraries Llano ISD public comment