State Rep. proposes bill to determine appropriate content for public libraries

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NEWTON COUNTY, Mo. – Who determines what content at public libraries is appropriate for minors?

Republican Newton County State Rep. Ben Baker says it should be an elected board that decides what’s on the shelves.

One mom thinks it’s a good idea, but the Missouri Library Association is against the bill saying it would impose on the people’s access to information.

“Our librarians that do the selections for the materials, review these materials and they look at recommendations, they look at the materials and then they put them in the appropriate area in the library,” Regina Greer Cooper, Executive Director Library District said.

Proposed House Bill 2044, if passed, would restrict state funding from public libraries that allow minors to access quote “age-inappropriate sexual material” that lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

“It needs to be controlled,” mother Brittany George-Vandeweerd said. “It should be my decision if I want my child to pick up a book and see inappropriate things on there.”

The bill would have each library establish an elected board of parents to review material for its shelves and determine what’s appropriate.

This mom we spoke to at the library says the bill is something she’d be supportive of.

“I’d like that,” George-Vandeweerd said. “To decide if they can if it can be here or not, yeah I’d like that. I already have to keep an eye on her phone and who she talks to and social media and stuff. So, for that law to be here, it would help because I don’t have to worry about her in the library cause in the library, I want her to be safe.”

The Springfield-Greene County Library District says they’d rather leave discretion up to parents.

“Every family, you know, in the world is different,” Greer Cooper said. “I wouldn’t dream of telling you what books you and your children can use and I don’t want anybody telling me that.

“There’s a lot of things out there in the world, you know, to get access to and we do our best to have quality things to provide to the citizens of Greene County, no matter what their age is.”

If the bill becomes law and librarians don’t do as it proposes, they would face up to a year in county jail or a fine of up to $500.

We tried reaching out to Rep. Baker multiple times but he has not gotten back to us for comment.

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