FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Amendments were made on March 13 to Senate Bill 81, a bill that would regulate what books children check out from the library.
Instead of books being classified as obscene and removed from the library, they will be relocated.
The reasoning behind the bill is to make sure kids don’t have access to obscene material.
However, the bill has been subject to controversy. Sarah Thompson is a retired librarian. She’s worked for over 30 years in libraries including those in Fayetteville, Rogers and Greenland. She said this bill casts mistrust on library staff.
“Librarians do not want to harm children. Criminalizing librarians for giving a book to a child. That’s a nonissue in my opinion,” Thompson said.
The bill would make public libraries and schools liable for distributing material classified as obscene to minors. A committee would need to be established at each school and public library. If anyone had a complaint about a book’s appropriateness, it would be brought before the committee. If the committee decided to keep the book, the individual who filed the complaint could appeal the decision with a higher governing body.
State Sen. Bart Hester voted in favor of the bill when it passed the Senate. He said it’s important to make sure children are protected from inappropriate content.
“Our thoughts were to make sure it got to a level of elected officials, whether that’s a city council, a JP, the quorum court, or just the school board,” Hester said.
But Thompson disagrees, she doesn’t think a governing body is appropriate to make decisions for whether books should remain in a library or not. Instead, she thinks the decision should lie with each student’s parent.
“Everyone needs to be able to make their own determination about what they read and what they think and their opinions,” Thompson said.
The bill passed the Senate last week and is now in a House Judiciary Committee.