Don't Imprison Librarians!
One of the most egregious bills we’ve ever seen has just been introduced in Missouri. If HB 2044 passes, the government will be able to fine and send librarians to jail if a child accesses a book at a library that they deem to be “inappropriate”.
We are deeply concerned by Missouri House Bill 2044, "Parental Oversight of Public Libraries Act". It sets up quasi-governmental tribunals that circumvent the normal way libraries review materials challenges and imposes fines or jail time on librarians who violate the act. It's a bad bill and needs to be stopped.
The very idea of throwing librarians in jail or fining them if a child sees something that is deemed inappropriate by a "panel" is troubling and offensive. Librarians help parents with the skills and information to make good decisions for their own families. Parents should be empowered to make those decisions and libraries should not live in fear of doing their jobs. The free speech advocates at PEN America write that "Every reader and writer in the country should be horrified, absolutely horrified, at this bill.” We cannot agree more.
The concept of a "review panel" is very troubling. Each and every library in Missouri (and across the country) already has an open, transparent, and consultative process to review materials. On BookRiot, Kelly Jenson gets it right when she observes that "[M]embers of the review committee for youth materials will be selected not based on [their] merit, but rather, on the ability to show up to a meeting and garner majority support.... This leaves plenty of space for small groups of vocal opponents to freedom of information to make critical decisions about library materials, which will directly impact funding of those libraries." The Washington Post notes that "Public librarians are explicitly barred by the statute from serving on such review boards, even if they are from the community." This bill manufactures a crisis that isn't there.
Here at EveryLibrary, we stand with our librarian colleagues in Missouri and ask you to sign the petition opposing HB 2044 today. Then, please share the petition with your friends and family. We believe that HB 2044 is patently unconstitutional and front in the culture war, plain and simple. We need to get the word out widely about this attack on libraries and families.
Help stop it before it gains traction.