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New Proposed Rule Impacting Missouri Libraries

In October, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's office submitted a proposed rule that would establish a new certification requirement for libraries receiving state funds.

In October, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft's office submitted a proposed rule that would establish a new certification requirement for libraries receiving state funds.

As stated in the proposal, libraries would be required to adopt written policies determining what material is age-appropriate. State funds could not be used to acquire “inappropriate materials in any form that appeal to the prurient interest of a minor.” Libraries also would be required to abide by a parent's decision as to what material their child has access to in the library. Parents would have the right to challenge a library's age-appropriate designation for any material.

The Maryland Library Association stands firmly in favor of the freedom to read and opposes Secretary Ashcroft's proposed rule. We stand with the American Library Association in that:

It is the responsibility of publishers and librarians, as guardians of the people's freedom to read, to contest encroachments upon that freedom by individuals or groups seeking to impose their own standards or tastes upon the community at large; and by the government whenever it seeks to reduce or deny public access to public information.

The Missouri Library Association has published its response to the proposed "age appropriate" rule advanced by Missouri Secretary of State Ashcroft that will impair the ability of public libraries to acquire and lend library books to their communities. Its Intellectual Freedom Committee has published its own response to the proposed rule as well.

The Missouri Library Association has issued its call to action, asking Missouri residents and Missouri organizations to comment on the proposed rule. ALA and the Maryland Library Association will be supporting the Missouri Library Association and following its lead in responding to the proposed rule.

Further, the Maryland Library Association recently signed on as a partner organization with Unite Against Book Bans, a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. We encourage members of the public to visit Unite Against Book Ban's Action Toolkit for talking points, tips on contacting local and state representatives, and images to use to show your support on social media.

We will keep you all posted with developments and if there are other ways that the Maryland library community can support the Missouri library community.

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