Report: Missouri’s Secretary of State Submits Rule to Block ‘Obscene Material’ in State-Funded Libraries
UPDATE October 19, 2022 Missouri Library Association Releases Statement on Secretary of State Ashcroft’s Proposed Rule
Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft submitted a proposition Monday that would establish a certification requirement for libraries receiving state funds and institute measures to prevent minors from viewing age-inappropriate materials.
According to a news release from Ashcroft’s office, libraries would adopt written policies determining what material is age-appropriate. As well, state funds could not be used to purchase or acquire inappropriate materials in any form that “appeal to the prurient interest of a minor.”
Under the plan, public libraries would have to adopt policies to determine what material is appropriate for certain ages. And the proposed rule says state money could not be used to purchase or acquire inappropriate materials in any form that appeal to the “prurient interest of a minor.”
Ashcroft, a second-term Republican whose duties include being state librarian, acknowledged his plan is part of an effort by the GOP to address “pervasive” cultural issues.
“Supporting the efforts of libraries across our state has been a priority of mine since Day 1 — we have been able to provide millions of dollars to libraries through grants and other funding,” Ashcroft said. “Yes, we want to make sure libraries have the resources and materials they need for their constituents, but we also want our children to be ‘children’ a little longer than a pervasive culture many often dictate.”
The proposed rule is in a review period that will last through Dec. 15.
Librarians say they already have policies for determining what materials go into their children’s sections. And they already have processes for allowing residents to challenge materials. Kansas City Public Library, for example, has those policies already available on its website, said Cindy Hohl, director of policy analysis and operational support.
“Libraries certainly protect the interests of all users. And we’ve always supported individuals, from youths to adults, so we would certainly hope that the library continues to be seen as a trusted public space that is safe and available for anyone to use,” Hohl said.
In a statement, the Kansas City Public Library said, “We remain sensitive to any specter of censorship and restriction of equitable access to books and other vital Library materials. Yes, parents and guardians should be arbiters on what is suitable for their children. They shouldn’t impose those choices on others. Nor should the state of Missouri.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.