Don't Send Librarians to Jail

Don't Send Librarians to Jail

n one of the most egregious bills we’ve ever seen, if passed, the government in Missouri 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.

Help fight back, sign the petition today!

House Bill 2044 would make it so that no library in Missouri that receives state aid can allow minors access to “age-inappropriate sexual material.” The bill also sets up a five-person parental library review board, which would decide what material is considered inappropriate for minors. If the bill passes, it would ...

n one of the most egregious bills we’ve ever seen, if passed, the government in Missouri 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.

Help fight back, sign the petition today!

House Bill 2044 would make it so that no library in Missouri that receives state aid can allow minors access to “age-inappropriate sexual material.” The bill also sets up a five-person parental library review board, which would decide what material is considered inappropriate for minors. If the bill passes, it would also mean any library staff that violates the act would face a 500 dollar fine, or a year in jail.

All of this begs the questions:

  1. Who provides oversight to the new review boards?
  2. How easy would it be for that board to be infiltrated by individuals with a political, religious, or economic agenda?
  3. And how much will this legislation cost Missouri taxpayers?

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Parents should have knowledge about the materials their children are accessing. Libraries are specifically created to provide materials on a wide range of subjects for all members of the public. Librarians actively support and encourage parents to participate in their children’s library use through various programs and activities. Parents are capable of reviewing materials accessed by their children and making decisions about their own family values without government interference. 

HB 2044 sets up a crisis that does not exist in libraries. Materials in libraries are already reviewed by librarians who are specifically trained in collection development. They select age-appropriate materials based on a wide range of guidelines. Library users may also already challenge the placement of materials in a library through a process for reconsideration. In many cases, this process already includes the library board, elected officials, and members of the public. HB 2044 would create an unnecessary, unwieldy, unfunded, duplicative, and overly bureaucratic mockery of a long-standing and working review process.

Ultimately, the decision to access materials in the library should be a decision made between a parent and their own children and not a new bureaucratic, unregulated government tribunal.

The high cost of enforcement also means that Missouri will see an increase in taxes to pay for this overarching government censorship. If we start sending librarians to jail over the content of books, it costs approximately $31,000 to house an inmate in prison for one year in Missouri. The cost of this bill is also exacerbated by the fact that each library in the state must hold a publicly funded review panel election for every 5 person review board required. Is this how we want our tax dollars to be spent?

If you object to the idea of a parental review board determining what “age-inappropriate sexual materials” are, please sign the petition today. We object to fining librarians - or sending them to jail - for doing their jobs. Help fight back against this government overreach and sign the petition today!

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Don't Send Librarians to Jail

Send an email to Representative Ben Baker to ask him to reconsider this egregious bill.

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