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Pullman Library Board to consider policy changes after Thomas Jefferson painting draws complaints

Pullman’s public library board heard from the public this week as it considers criticism of a painting of a former president that hangs in the library’s north entrance.

Last month, several emails sent to the Pullman library asked that the painting of Thomas Jefferson be taken down because he owned slaves. Library Director Joanna Bailey says about 75 % of those who testified at Tuesday night’s public meeting supported keeping the painting on display.

But the issue is more complicated than taking a poll, Bailey says. She notes the library would have to change its own policy regarding art displays to include “deaccessioning.” That’s the term for removing an artwork from permanent display.

“The library's art acquisition policy is really just about art acquisition,” she said, “It doesn't have a section on deaccessioning, and so as almost anyone can understand if you always acquire and never deaccession, you're just going to keep building a collection that will outnumber the spaces available.”

Bailey says the library board is taking a look at the city of Pullman’s art policy to see if it can provide guidance on how to get rid of paintings.  The library currently rotates its art, meaning the Jefferson painting could be taken down, but it would return to display at a later date. Bailey says the art policy and future of the Jefferson painting will come up again at next month's board meeting.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.
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