Missouri: “Libraries Say They Never Offered ‘Obscene’ Materials, But Ashcroft’s Rule Has Them Scrambling”
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
St. Louis-area librarians are confident their children’s sections don’t include — and never have — obscene materials, but they are spending hours examining policies to make sure they are in compliance with a new state rule.
“We have never made child pornography available to anyone at any time,” said Waller McGuire, director of the St. Louis Public Library. In fact, there is no obscene material in any library location, he says.
And the library has had collection policies, which explain how a library chooses books and other materials, in place since the 1800s, he said.
The state rule introduced by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft would block state funding for libraries if they allow minors to access books that are pornographic or labeled as obscene under state statutes. It requires written collection policies and a way for a parent or guardian to challenge the age appropriateness of materials or a program.
Scott Bonner, director of the Ferguson Municipal Public Library, is afraid that even if books don’t meet the Supreme Court definition of “obscene” that the library will see more challenges because of the Ashcroft rule.
He [Bonner] said: “The rule is not about making libraries shelve materials in appropriate areas. Libraries already do that. They’ve been exceedingly conscientious about this issue since before I was born. No library I’ve ever worked at or used has what a reasonable person would call pornography in any kids’ area, or what the Supreme Court has determined would be ‘obscene.’ This rule corrects a problem that only exists in propaganda.
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.