Fremont Library Board Says It Sorted Out Internet Filters, Book Challenges By Deadline

The Fremont County Library board on Wednesday said it’s addressed the age-appropriateness of its books and the county government's demand that it block porn from youth computers.

Clair McFarland

May 02, 20244 min read

The Lander branch of the Fremont County Library System.
The Lander branch of the Fremont County Library System. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The Fremont County Library board sent a letter Wednesday to its governing county commission saying it has addressed the commission’s demands about filtering pornography from kids’ library computers, keeping book challenges local and other issues.

The letter to the Fremont County Commission is in response to a threat to replace the library board chair with a commissioner if the county library issues weren’t addressed by Wednesday.

This back-and-forth followed months of turmoil, including book challenges, a prolonged effort to filter pornography from youth computers in the libraries, bickering between board members, and public outrage over book contents and board member behaviors.

What The Letter Says

The library board’s letter says it and the commission have already addressed some of the issues, such as a controversy last spring in which Fremont County Library System Director Anita Marple urged Board Vice-Chair Perry Cook to reapply for board membership so that an “ultra-conservative” person couldn’t fill her seat.

The board also started grappling last autumn with its internet use and meeting room procedures, says the letter.

Kids’ Computers

The commission’s April 2 letter full of ultimatums asked the board to put pornography filters on the youth computers by May 1.   

Fremont County Commissioner Mike Jones, who serves as library board liaison, told Cowboy State Daily last month that the action should not have taken months as it did.

“This (reasoning and delay) is lost on the community,” said Jones.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the filtering action Wednesday.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the county’s technology expert could have the kids’ computers filtered within the next two or three weeks, Marple told the board Wednesday.

She said she expects that action and a whole-network firewall to cost an extra $1,000-$2,000 a year, an expense the county’s technology budget should absorb.

Book Challenges

The commissioners also asked the library board to address its book challenge procedure, which the board did at its April 17 meeting.

The new book-challenge procedure says only a Fremont County resident can challenge library books or materials. This is reportedly in response to out-of-state, socially conservative group Mass Resistance’s involvement in the library’s meetings and issues.

The library also won’t consider challenges from patrons who haven’t completely read the books they’re challenging, says the policy.

A woman who recently challenged the inclusion of two Ellen Hopkins books in the teen section had not read both books completely. She said she had suffered trauma and couldn’t handle their content.

A challenger who disagrees with the library director’s decision on a challenge can appeal to the board. The board can then reject the appeal, or decide to read the book and give the challenger five minutes to argue against its inclusion in a certain section or the library.

But to vote on that appeal, board members will have to read the book entirely, says the new policy.

This One’s A Little Tentative

Lastly, the board added a sentence to its Wednesday letter saying it’s having the director look into tying parental restrictions to kids’ library cards or accounts.

Board Treasurer John Angst insisted Wednesday on including language to show the board is relying in part on another entity, in this case the Wyoming State Library, and can’t act autonomously.

“I want it to be known by our commissioners we’re not being … aspirational. They’ve thrown an arrow into our camp, and I don’t like it,” said Angst. “That’s why I want to have a response that reflects the professionalism of this board and that we’re not being kowtowed.”

Though the board had directed Marple on April 17 to investigate parental controls on kids’ accounts in response to a commission mandate to address “age appropriateness,” Marple indicated doing so could be difficult.

“I had one conversation with (state library) network administrator,” ahead of the Wednesday meeting, said Marple. “It is super complicated.”

Jones could not be reached immediately for comment Thursday afternoon. The commission is slated to meet Tuesday in a public meeting for which it has not yet posted an agenda to its website. 

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter