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Proposal would require Missouri libraries to monitor age appropriateness of materials

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on Monday proposed a rule that would require libraries receiving state funds to determine what material is age appropriate and restrict minors from accessing some books.

“When state dollars are involved, we want to bring back local control and parental involvement in determining what children are exposed to,” Ashcroft said. “Foremost, we want to protect our children.”

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The proposed rule also would allow parents to challenge a library’s age-appropriate designation and ban state funds from being used to “purchase or acquire materials in any form that appeal to the prurient interest of any minor.” Libraries that receive state funds could see them cut off if they violate the proposed rule.

After the rule is formally published in the state register on November 15, residents will be able to submit public comment for 30 days. Ashcroft cited state laws that gives his office authority for rulemaking over library funds when he filed the rule.

Under the rule, libraries will have to adopt a “written, publicly-accessible” policy determining “how selections are made in considering the appropriateness for the age and maturity level of any minor .. who accesses any material in any form.” That policy will also allow parents and guardians to know what materials are available and bans library employees from allowing minors to access those materials without a parent or guardian’s permission.

Materials that are deemed age inappropriate by a library should not be “knowingly displayed” in areas of the library designated primarily for minors, according to the rule, and events or presentations are required to have an age appropriate designation on any advertisements or marketing materials.

“Supporting the efforts of libraries across our state has been a priority of mine since day one,” Ashcroft said. “We have been able to provide millions of dollars to libraries through grants and other funding. Yes, we want to make sure libraries have the resources and materials they need for their constituents, but we also want our children to be ‘children’ a little longer than a pervasive culture many often dictate.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice News

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