Report: “Missouri Escalates Battle Over Books with New Rule Threatening State Funds For Libraries”
From KCUR Radio:
Beginning May 30, a new state rule could deny state funding to libraries over books deemed inappropriate for young readers — although it’s not clear how it will be enforced.
Under the new rule, public libraries will lose state funding, which ranges from 1% to 20% of their budget, if they violate the rules. Among the new requirements:
Libraries must have strict new policies barring them from giving minors books that their parents don’t want them to read. Libraries also must keep any “age-inappropriate” books away from areas meant for young readers, and they must clearly publicize how they select books and how parents can challenge those choices. Also, all events at the library — including story hours — must be labeled with “age-appropriate designations” in all their promotions.
The move comes as books are being banned from libraries at rates not seen in decades; most of them have to do with LGBTQ themes or race and racism. But Ashcroft insists that tying library funding to book selection is not banning books.
“I think this is reasonable strings on dollars,” he [Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft] says. “We see that all the time with government funding. It happens with highways, it happens with schools. That is the way of the world.”
It’s unclear how exactly the Missouri rules would be enforced, or what happens, for example, if parents challenge a book they see as “age-inappropriate” but the library disagrees and keeps it.
“I really don’t know how it would work,” Ashcroft says. “I could potentially see maybe a parent sues my office and says, ‘Hey, you’re not allowed to fund them. They’re not doing what they said they’re doing.’ But that would then be decided in a court of law.”
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.