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Local library staff react to proposed legislation from Missouri lawmaker

The proposed legislation would allow a parental review board to approve books and material available at libraries.

Posted: Jan 19, 2020 3:13 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Staff at local Libraries are reacting to proposed legislation looking to change the way libraries work in the state.

That legislation would force libraries to assemble a five-person review board made up of parents to decide what kinds of books and material should be offered at libraries.

The goal of it is to keep inappropriate material out of the hands of children, but the proposal not sitting well with those who run libraries.

"It’s actually the talk of many library organizations across the country," Mary Beth Revels, library director, St. Joseph Public Library said. "I’m not really sure why this is needed."

Revels said the decision to limit what’s available on the shelves would make libraries less welcoming for the community.

"We’re all about freedom of information," Revels said. "We want to keep that freedom available."

Revels said a big part of that freedom is leaving it up to those closest to children to decide what they should be exposed to.

"We encourage parents to know exactly what their children are reading," She said. "That’s exactly what parents should do."

Revels says she, like many others who run libraries, wants them to be a place where everyone can find something meaningful to them.

"We try to offer a variety of things for a variety of people," She said. "It might not be the right book for you but you can bet it the right book for someone else." 

Revels says she doesn't feel the legislation will become law, but the conversation is an important one. The library will be hosting listening sessions early next month to gather community feedback on the programs they provide.

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