Monitoring State Legislation That Criminalizes Libraries, Schools, and Museums 2023

EveryLibrary is monitoring legislation during the 2023-2024 session that aims to change state obscenity and harmful to minors laws to allow for the prosecution of librarians, educators, college and university faculty, and museum professionals. 

Through May 25, 2023, two states have passed bills that allow for the criminal prosecution of librarians and educators. Arkansas SB81 includes both public libraries and educators. Indiana HB1447 focuses on educators including school librarians. Two other states saw vetoes of their criminalization legislation. North Dakota SB2360 passed and the veto was sustained by one vote. Idaho HB314 was passed by both houses and then vetoed. These 2023 legislative actions join Tennessee and Oklahoma in 2022 in creating new provision to prosecute libraries or schools over obscenity. 

The EveryLibrary Institute has released a Policy Brief "Opposing Attempts to Criminalize Libraries and Education Through State Obscenity Laws" (January 2023) to help state library associations anticipate this legislation and properly prepare to oppose unnecessary politicized changes to settled state law. If your state is facing legislation that looks to amend or repeal the types of bona fide institutions or professions that have a defense from prosecution exemption under current obscenity law, this Policy Brief is intended to provide you with actionable insights into ways to build a broad-based common cause coalition to oppose bad policies.

EveryLibrary provides state library associations with free digital organizing resources and targeted online campaign tools via, Save School Librarians, or the new Fight for the First platform. State partners can immediately access their state file of voters and library activists. EveryLibrary is proud to provide financial support for outreach as well as hosting its own independent expenditures to help amplify messaging. 

For up-to-the-minute updates on more legislation that impacts libraries, please see 2023 Legislation of Concern.