New rules restricting ‘age inappropriate’ materials in Missouri public libraries in place

Missouri public libraries now face further restrictions when it comes to what materials can come in and out.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:18 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Missouri public libraries now face further restrictions when it comes to what materials can come in and out.

On Tuesday, new rules implemented by Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft went into effect limiting what libraries can include in their collections.

Some of the rules include libraries creating and publishing a written policy describing how they consider age appropriateness when selecting materials, letting parents determine what materials children can access, designating a written policy letting parents challenge what’s age appropriate and banning libraries from buying materials that are pornographic. The rules identify pornographic material as nudity and sexual conduct--among a list of other descriptions.

Libraries risk losing public funding if these new rules are violated.

“I see this as a proposal that increases transparency. Increases the ability of parents to be in control of what their children check out at a public library,” Ashcroft told News 4 back in December. “This rule doesn’t ban any books.”

“It really does seem like a solution in search of a problem,” said Grace Hagen, director of operations and inclusion at the Novel Neighbor bookstore in Webster Groves. “I think it’s a political maneuver. It feels like a lot of overreach. Policies are already in place around which books go in which sections and how they’re categorized. I haven’t heard of issues of children being harmed by running into materials in libraries. I have heard of people being harmed by not being represented in their libraries.”

In St. Louis County, for example, the libraries already have a Materials Reconsideration Form to allow people to challenge what’s in the library’s collection. Officials with St. Louis County public libraries told News 4 told they are adjusting policies that will go to board review in July. They added St. Louis City and St. Charles County libraries are doing the same.

The Missouri Library Association opposed the changes.

All public libraries are required to submit their written policies to state officials by July 31.