MISSOURI (CNN NEWSOURCE) – A lawmaker in Missouri is putting forth legislation that would limit access to certain materials in libraries.
He says the bill is aimed at keeping minors from seeing books and other content containing sexual material.
But critics say the measure is a form of censorship.
“The main thing is I want to be able to take my kids to a library and make sure they’re in a safe environment, and that they’re not gonna be exposed to something that is objectionable material,” Ben Baker said.
Last week, Newton County representative Ben Baker filed the Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act, and it’s already getting backlash.
“I was contacted by my fellow directors across the state. They’re all very very upset about it. The Missouri Library Association’s very aware of it. So also is the American Library Association at a federal level, ” Library Director Carrie Cline said.
The bill, if passed, would make it so no library that gets state aid can allow minors access to age inappropriate sexual material.
It also sets up a five person parental library review board, which would decide what books, movies or otherwise are appropriate for minors- and remove them from public access by minors.
“It wouldn’t be taken out of the library, it would just be put in a separate section that’s not for children,” Baker said.
Some people at the Neosho Newton County Library think it would be a good idea, saying kids are exposed to too much sexual content elsewhere.
But others, like Carrie Cline, think it should be a choice that individual parents make with their kids.
“If it is okay with you that your child has chosen something off the shelf and wants to check it out, that’s between you and your family. I think if you do, if they have chosen something that you think is inappropriate for whatever reason, then I think that’s a great teachable moment to explain why you as a family think that that item is inappropriate, and put it back and don’t check it out,” Cline said.
If the legislation becomes law, library staff members who violate the act would be fines $500 or spend a year in jail.