Houston Chronicle: “As Book Bans Ebb, the Battle to Criminally Charge Texas Librarians Has Started”
From the Houston Chronicle:
Politically and socially conservative, Texas is a national leader in school book challenges and bans; a Chronicle investigation last summer counted more than 2,000 content reviews of challenged school library books. The state prison system prohibits more than 9,000 titles.
Many of the book battles that flared up at school and public libraries across the state in the past year have returned to smolders. Yet behind the scenes an even more consequential campaign is playing out – not merely to place some books off limits, but to prosecute librarians for making them available.
Local police have been called out to Texas public libraries to scan books for illegal content in at least five instances. “They are a step away from drawing chalk outlines in the library,” said Adam Steinbaugh, an attorney for The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a free-speech advocacy organization. “They are treating librarians as suspects. That should be concerning for everyone.”
No librarians have been charged with a crime. But in recent months Texas lawmakers have proposed a dozen bills that would change state law to make it easier to prosecute them for obscenity.
“We have never seen anything like this before,” said Shirley Robinson, executive director of the Texas Library Association. “Is law enforcement going to be in the position of deciding to arrest librarians or teacher for obscenity? Is that really where we’re going?”
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Filed under: Libraries, News, Public Libraries, School Libraries
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. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.