COLUMBIA, MO (KMIZ)
Daniel Boone Regional Library Workers United — a newly formed union for DNRL workers — held a press conference in Columbia on Tuesday to oppose a proposed rule outlining what books Missouri libraries can provide to children.
“This rule is forged with trepidation and is bound to create more problems than solutions,” Kathy Steinhoff, the Missouri state representative for the 45th District, said at the conference. “Limiting access to content deemed subjectively inappropriate or offensive is a dangerous and slippery slope. History should serve us well in its implications.
The rule was proposed by Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft last month. The rule, 15 CSR 30-200.015, states that any library receiving state funding through the office of the secretary of state cannot purchase any book deemed “inappropriate” with state money.
Libraries would also be required to give a written policy on how they plan to decide which books are age-appropriate for children and how they would keep inappropriate books off young people’s shelves. Parents could also challenge the books.
Speakers at the conference argued that the rule takes control of local libraries and that parents should decide what their children can read.
“These kids are the future of our community and they are reading to prepare for the world,” said DBRLWU board member Dakota Hommes. “I think we should let the parents take care of their children. I don’t think we need the secretary of state to do that for them.
Other organizations have also spoken out against the rule.
DBRL’s board of directors issued a resolution on Monday opposing the rule.
The Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee released a statement in October saying the proposed rule is a solution in search of a problem. And that some of the rule requirements are already enforced in libraries.
Unite Against BookBans, an initiative of the American Library Association, is a partner of the State of Missouri. They have registered over 1,600 contested books this year alone. The total number of book challenges in 2022 is expected to exceed the 2021 record.
Although the rule was added to the Missouri Register today, there is a 30-day period for public comment before it can be finalized.
Those interested in submitting public comments may send them to the Office of the Secretary of State by email at email@example.com or by mail to the Office of the Secretary of State of Missouri, PO Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65102.
The secretary of state did not immediately respond to the comments.