Jay Ashcroft proudly stands by his proposed rule that would forbid state libraries in Missouri from using state funds on materials that “appeal to the prurient interest of a minor.”
“I encourage anyone in the state of Missouri to read the rule,” the Missouri Secretary of State told The Lion. “Give us comments about how that rule could be made better.”
The proposed rule also would require libraries to have a written, publicly accessible policy detailing how selections are arranged for age appropriateness and maturity.
A long-time advocate for public libraries, Ashcroft said he hoped the rule would be “prophylactic,” preventing more incidents of parents discovering their children have been exposed to objectionable materials. Parents describe some of the books their children encounter as pornographic.
Despite the concern of parents nationwide, Ashcroft’s proposal has met with stiff opposition and is being misconstrued as a “book banning” attempt.
Waller McGuire, CEO of the St. Louis Public Library, claims libraries would be more vulnerable to people targeting racial or LGBT materials. The Missouri Association of School Librarians further claims the rule “contradicts the very idea of local control.”
Ashcroft criticized the backlash as “logically inconsistent.”
“This rule does not require any materials to be kept out of libraries,” Ashcroft told The Lion. “It encourages and helps parents to do their job of deciding what their minors will have access to.”
Additionally, the rule does not dictate what policy libraries have; it merely requires they have a policy.
Once public comments close on Dec. 15, Ashcroft can revise the proposed rule, which may be enacted as soon as March.
Anyone wishing to read the rule and submit a comment can do so here.