Under the parental oversight of public libraries bill, which has been proposed by Missouri Republican Ben Baker, panels of parents would be elected to evaluate whether books are appropriate for children. Public hearings would then be held by the boards to ask for suggestions of potentially inappropriate books, with public libraries that allow minors access to such titles to have their funding stripped. Librarians who refuse to comply could be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.
Titles including Sherman Alexie’s award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a young adult novel about the rape of a teenager, have all come under fire in Missouri over the last decade.
PEN America’s deputy director of free expression research and policy, James Tager, called Baker’s bill a “shockingly transparent attempt to legalise book banning in the state of Missouri”…
No one’s trying to keep parents from interacting with librarians, right now, over guiding children through the public library system. And that’s properly a two-way street.
When I was 8, I’d read everything of interest to me in the children’s section of our public library branch. When the head librarian questioned my request for an adult card, it took my mother interceding to get permission. No extra burden on her – since she’d started the reading habit in both me and my kid sister by walking us to the library and back every Saturday morning to pick out books for the week.
Best habit she ever gave me.