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State library board to compile list of inappropriate books for children

The Alabama Public Library Service board voted Wednesday to compile a list of books it considered inappropriate for children. The list will be posted on the website.

Parents will be able to submit titles they consider to be too inappropriate for children to the list.

However, the Library Service will not be banning these books, it doesn’t have that power over the member libraries. The list is simply a resource for parents and librarians to use, or not to use, the board said.

Proponents of the list said several libraries in the state, particularly Prattville, Madison, Millbrook, and Foley, have made headlines for having books with inappropriate sexual
content or subjects that critics feel are not age appropriate in their children’s section.

Opponents claim this is simply censorship and that most of the books being targeted are books about LGBTQ+ people and children.

“I believe it is critical that we address the concerns of parents across the State of Alabama, and provide our local libraries with some guidance on what books may contain inappropriate content for children,” board member John Wahl, chairman of the Alabama Republican Party, said in a statement before the meeting. “I am a strong advocate of the First Amendment and do not believe in banning books, but this is not a question about banning anything.

“The question here is should taxpayer funds be used to purchase books with explicit sexual content and other inappropriate material that are readily accessible to our children. We have rating systems for movies, television shows, and even video games which help protect our youth from unsuitable materials. Libraries should be a safe spot for children, and a place where parents do not have to worry about what they may be exposed to in the children’s section.”

Gov. Kay Ivey sent a letter to APLS Director Dr. Nancy Pack expressing her concern about a number of titles with inappropriate content that have been recently found in Alabama public libraries.

“Rather than supporting Alabama families, out-of-state library groups like the American Library Association appear to be making the situation worse,” Ivey wrote. “The ALA’s
‘Library Bill of Rights’ – which the Alabama Public Library Service has adopted as its own – says that a person’s library use should not be abridged because of ‘age.’ Not to be misunderstood, the ALA’s website regarding youth access to library resources clarifies that ‘like adults, children and teens have the right to find the information they choose,’ so libraries must not ‘discriminate’ based on ‘age.’

“Even more startling, the Library Bill of Rights further provides that all people, regardless of age, ‘possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use’, a statement that appears to directly contravene Alabama’s law giving parents access to their children’s library records.”

Pack said on a recent appearance on “Capital Journal” that children growing up in LGBTQ+ homes want to see books about homes like they are growing up in where there are two daddies or two mommies. Pack compared the modern-day critics of the libraries’ content to 1950s segregationists who did not want the librarians having books showing Blacks as equals to Whites in their collections.

A former librarian told the Yellowhammer News that no library, no matter how large it is, can have all books that are in print. If a book written to a third-grade level about gender transitioning is in the library in the children’s section, it is there because the librarian made a conscious decision to take taxpayer money to purchase that book and place it there.

A large part of library science is how you assemble and manage your collection, the former librarian said.

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