New policies for Missouri libraries take effect, including banning “obscene” material

New policies for Missouri libraries are taking effect including banning “obscene” material
New policies for Missouri libraries are taking effect including banning “obscene” material(KY3)
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 9:36 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - A new policy taking effect on Tuesday bans libraries in Missouri from buying materials that some could consider obscene. And if libraries don’t change their policies, they could lose state funding.

“The law wants to put the responsibility on librarians to police what children and young people check out,” said Kathleen O’Dell with the Springfield-Greene county library. “One of the provisions of the law is that it would fine a librarian up to $500 if they went against a parent’s wishes about what a child would be checking out.”

If libraries across Missouri do not follow the six requirements in a new rule from the secretary of state’s office, they will not receive state funding.

Those requirements laid out in the Library Certification Requirement for the Protection of Minors include:

  • A written policy describing how they consider age appropriateness when selecting materials.
  • Materials that are “child pornography,” as defined by Missouri Law, are banned.
  • Libraries must create and publish a policy letting parents and guardians determine what materials their children can access.
  • No “age-inappropriate” materials will be displayed in areas used for children or teens.
  • Events must designate which ones are appropriate for different age groups.
  • Libraries will adopt a written policy letting parents challenge whether materials, events, or displays are “age-appropriate.” The results of challenges must be published on a library’s website.

The Springfield-Greene County Library District already has most of these policies, but some nationwide will have to write them from scratch.

“We understand that there are some smaller library districts that maybe don’t have as strong of policies that that we do and are concerned,” said O’Dell.

One of those many districts is in Dallas County. The director says they are actively working on it. Some library users think it’s going too far, while others say it is necessary.

As for Springfield-Greene County Libraries, it’s creating a committee to review its policies.

”We’re reviewing our policy based on the law, and we have not made any decisions yet,” said O’Dell. “We’re pretty confident that what we have in place is sufficient to meet the standards of the law.”

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