State, local library employees fear jail time under proposed bill

WIREGRASS (WDHN) — The proposed bill that aims to impose harsher restrictions on what books children can and cannot read could put library employees in hot water.

“It does sound like library staff could be subject to criminal prosecution”

Under the “Supplying Minors” bill, public libraries and school libraries will now be included in the state’s existing obscenity laws that state it is illegal to allow a minor access to materials containing sexual content.

That includes sexual intercourse, people dressed in “revealing” or “sexual clothing”, and anything else that is deemed harmful.

But one library director questions what the law might deem harmful.

“So that’s where we as a profession, kind of have some concerns about the potential slippery slope that this would create,” DHCL Director Chris Warren said. We’re aware that what’s appropriate or meaningful to one person, might not be appropriate or meaningful to someone else.”

If the bill is passed, it could mean trouble for libraries in violation of the law.

As library employees could face legal troubles and maybe even jail time leaving some worried about their future.

“First and foremost, we’re scared. I mean, this is our jobs at stake,” Ozark Dale County Library Administrative Assistant Joni Wood said. “We’re just trying our best to serve our community; our entire community. All are represented here, and to think that just by helping our community find the book that’s best for them could land us in jail, it’s frightening.”

The Dothan-Houston County Library already has measures in place that will prevent minors from coming in contact with obscene material like their limited access collection category–and their age restriction on library cards.

The library’s director feels that with the measures that are already in place, it is the parent’s responsibility.

“The library’s already taken a number of measures to ensure the parents are, in the end, the ones who are most responsible for what their kids are reading,”

With the bill scheduled to be voted on next week, Joni Wood said that she and her co-workers will continue to serve their community to the best of their ability.

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