The people's voice of reason

The Alabama Library Association opposes legislation to ban obscene material and performances in schools and libraries

On Thursday, the Alabama Library Association released a statement announcing their opposition to a House bill that could hold librarians criminally liable if they fail to remove materials that are inappropriate for children from public libraries and Alabama public schools. The bill also bans drags shows and other lewd performances targeting children.

Craig Scott is the president of the Alabama Library Association (ALLA).

"The message is clear – don't arrest Alabama librarians and stop turning our libraries into political battlefields," said President Scott. "Montgomery politicians are now seeking to criminalize librarians simply for doing their jobs. Under HB385, even with the revised language, public and school librarians could be penalized or even arrested by prosecutors eager to follow the demands of Alabama Republican Chair John Wahl, an Alabama Public Library Service Board member, who's willing to jail librarians for having books he considers unacceptable. This bill is government overreach, robs parents of their rights, and would have a chilling effect on free speech by potentially incarcerating librarians because particular books are available, including even the Bible. "

House Bill 385 (HB385) is sponsored by state Representative Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

"This is an effort to protect children," explained Rep. Mooney. "We did what we needed to do to protect children in an environment where their parents are not present and where their parents could not give consent."

If a librarian receives a notice that there is objectionable material on the shelves at a school library or public library, the librarian has seven days to remove that from the shelves if it does not meet Alabama's community standards. That notice also goes to the district attorney. If the obscene material remains on the shelves after that point, the librarian could be charged with a class C misdemeanor. A second offense would be a class B misdemeanor. A third offense or beyond could be a class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail.

The legislation passed the Alabama House of Representatives 72 to 28 largely along party lines.

HB385 now goes to the Alabama Senate for their consideration.

The librarians hope that this legislation stalls in the Senate.

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