First they came for the books and librarians…
From the Missouri Library Association:
Statement on Secretary of State Ashcroft’s Proposed Rule
October 19, 2022 [….]
The Missouri Library Association considers Secretary of State Ashcroft’s proposed rule for libraries an infringement on the professional judgment of librarians, and an effort to further stoke division in the communities that libraries serve. Libraries support access to information and ideas. The placement of books and materials in libraries is something that should be left up to people with training and experience in the profession of librarianship.
Ashcroft’s proposed changes also place undue burden on small and urban libraries by undermining not only their sense of agency but their ability to access information. The libraries who are most in need of state funding and assistance are also the most at risk under the proposed change.
MLA Statement on Intellectual Freedom
February 7, 2022 [….]
On behalf of our members, member institutions and professional ethical standards, we at the Missouri Library Association (MLA) stand with librarians, library workers, and other educators in the state of Missouri as they select and provide access to their collections for readers. We further support the processes and procedures our libraries have in place to deal with challenges with concerned parents and community members and are deeply troubled by efforts to circumvent these processes for political gain or as a result of moral panic.
Libraries as public institutions have existed in the United States for over 250 years. Each year, we promote our foundational ideals, provide access for our patrons, and find better and more equitable avenues to improve our institutions. Perhaps our most important guiding principle comes from Ranganathan: “Every reader, their book and every book, its reader.”
The “freedom to read” is more than just a shorthand for encouraging curiosity and inquiry. It is a pillar of our democracy. Intellectual freedom means that all of us have the right to explore and engage with the ideas we choose, and to be informed about the world around us. Adults have intellectual freedom, but so do youth. We support MASL’s statement that says, “Students should have choices in what books they read.”
We librarians are skilled, credentialed and thoughtful professionals who make it our work to champion inquiry, curiosity, democracy and access to information. Librarians support the rights of parents to choose books for their own children, but not the rights of one person to choose what books are right for an entire classroom, school, or public. Through our deep immersion in books and materials, librarians and library workers understand the greater context of knowledge and understanding facilitated through our collections. We reject the claim that removing, labeling, or relocating a title will somehow shield children from the ideas contained within, especially in the context of our connected digital world. We further reject the notion that anyone can perform the work we do without significant engagement with the professional ethics and expertise of librarianship. Public and school libraries are safe places for children to encounter ideas in an environment that nurtures curiosity. Occasionally these encounters will include ideas that might be challenging. We support the right of readers to be challenged, to learn, and to grow. Librarians and educators are the critical connection between readers and their books. It is our responsibility to champion these rights.
We support the expertise, thoughtfulness, and care exercised by thousands of librarians, library workers, and educators in the state of Missouri to foster the curiosity and inquiry that lives in young people. [….]
Tell us that you don’t know how public librariries work without telling us that you don’t know how public libraries work.
Jefferson City, Mo. — Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office has submitted a proposed rule that would establish a certification requirement for libraries receiving state funds and institute measures to protect minors from non-age-appropriate materials.
As stated in the proposal, libraries would adopt written policies determining what material is age-appropriate. As well, state funds could not be used to purchase or acquire inappropriate materials in any form that appeal to the prurient interest of a minor.
Libraries also would be required to honor a parent’s decision as to what material their child has access to in the library. Parents would have the right to challenge a library’s age-appropriate designation for any material.
“When state dollars are involved, we want to bring back local control and parental involvement in determining what children are exposed to,” said Ashcroft. “Foremost, we want to protect our children.”
This proposed administrative rule will be published in the Missouri Register on November 15, 2022, and then have a 30-day comment period. Secretary Ashcroft welcomes and encourages comment submission by mailing the Office of the Missouri Secretary of State, PO Box 1767, Jefferson City, MO 65102 or by email to email@example.com.
The Missouri State Library, within the Secretary of State’s office, promotes the development and improvement of library services throughout the state. Since taking office in 2017, Ashcroft has worked closely with Missouri’s libraries and the state legislature to improve state funding and improve public libraries.
“Supporting the efforts of libraries across our state has been a priority of mine since day one – we have been able to provide millions of dollars to libraries through grants and other funding,” Ashcroft said. “Yes, we want to make sure libraries have the resources and materials they need for their constituents, but we also want our children to be “children” a little longer than a pervasive culture many often dictate.”
“…that appeal to the prurient interest of a minor…” Welcome to America, in the 17th Century.
Does this mean fart jokes are out?
Pull my finger.
“Die Fahne hoch! Die Reihen fest geschlossen!” (October 17, 2022)