Report: “New Rule Threatening Missouri Library Funding Over ‘Obscene’ Kids Books is Approved”
Despite strong opposition, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s new rule governing libraries will go into effect later this spring, threatening public libraries’ state funding over providing minors with books deemed pornographic or obscene.
Ashcroft, a Republican who recently launched a campaign for governor, last fall proposed the rule, barring public library employees from granting minors access to materials without first receiving parental permission. His office received 20,000 public comments on the proposal, including criticism from librarians across the state who argue it amounts to an attack on intellectual freedom and will lead to book banning and political censorship. “T
The MO govt decided to ignore its citizens’ protest in order to pass rules to censor what libraries buy and share,” the Missouri Library Association said in a tweet. “The goal was never to protect kids bc libraries ALREADY DO THAT. It’s more an attempt to get notice before election season …”
Ashcroft’s office has pushed back, stating in the Missouri Register on Monday: “The proposed rule is not a ‘book ban.’ … Put simply, refusing to subsidize a particular activity with public monies does not violate the First Amendment.”
Under the rule, which will go into effect May 30, libraries are prohibited from using state funds to purchase materials for minors that could be considered pornography or obscene under state law. A previous version of the rule stated funds could not be used to purchase materials that appeal to the “prurient interest of a minor,” but Ashcroft’s office revised the language after receiving criticism that it was too vague.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.