FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.(KNWA/KFTA)– The Fayetteville Public Library and Pearl’s Book Store in Fayetteville filed a joint lawsuit along with others challenging parts of Arkansas Act 372.

Act 372 amends an existing law that prevents the distribution of obscene library books to minors
and the amendment would allow library employees to face criminal penalties for distributing books found to be harmful to children.

David Johnson, Executive Director at the Fayetteville Public Library says the law is overreaching and vague.

“We think that this is a violation of our constitutional rights as well we don’t want the government telling people what they can read or have access to,” Johnson said.

Daniel Jordan, co-owner at Pearl’s Book Store says the government is restricting citizens from access to be able to choose for themselves what is appropriate to consume and to read.

“The freedom to read is something that I’ve taken for granted so being confronted with the reality of Act 372, it’s pretty jarring and it should be appalling to Arkansans and anyone who considers freedom of speech an important value,” Daniel Jordan said.

However, Republican State Senator Dan Sullivan sent us a statement saying “The lawsuit is a wasteful exercise; these public funds should be spent on the public good not the crusade of a handful of effete bureaucrats,” Sullivan said.

Many of the local plaintiffs in the lawsuit point out how most of the books that have been deemed “obscene” so far are geared toward LGBTQ+ and minority groups.

Jordan says as a small local bookstore that serves the community they’re called to have books available for everyone.

“We pride ourselves in our selection and having books that represent our diverse community so Act 372 would actively harm our business and the communities who call Arkansas home,” Jordan said.

Johnson says Fayetteville is a very diverse community and as a public entity it’s just the responsibility of a leader to represent the people in this community.

“It’s our job to make sure that there are items in this facility available to everyone and not just what some people think other people should have access to,” Johnson said.