The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri

Library Studying Proposed New State Rule – Perhaps You Should, Too

The office of Missouri's secretary of state wants public libraries to act in the very best interests of our children. We've long done that at the Springfield-Greene County Library District and have no doubt that other libraries across the state do, as well.

The secretary of state's office wants parental oversight. Again, agreed. Parents and guardians should be interested and involved in all their children read, see, and hear. We invite and encourage that.

The Library is reviewing the potential impact of an administrative rule proposed by the secretary of state that would require state-funded libraries in Missouri to institute policies to "protect minors from non-age-appropriate materials." Parents could challenge any age designation.

After reviewing the administrative rule and reading what the Library has to say, we would encourage you to make comments. A 30-day window for public input opens November 15. You can submit comments in the following ways:

The secretary of state told me that he welcomes comments from the public on this rule. As users of the public library, I think it will be important to let your comments be known.

Like other libraries in Missouri, the Springfield-Greene County Library District already has collection development policies in place that assign the selection of books and other material for youth to experienced, professional collection development and children's librarians. They also spell out a process for a citizen's request for reconsideration of library materials. We place our displays in age-appropriate areas and our programs are advertised for adults, teens and tweens and kids and families.

All families are different. We strive to ensure a diverse collection to meet the needs of all of the families that we serve. Each family should have the right to decide what materials are appropriate for their children, not the State of Missouri.

Because state-funding is tied to this rule, it could potentially take away much-needed funding that would enable our library to provide resources for lifelong learning and enrichment to all of our citizens. This rule could also cost individual libraries financially in terms of staff time and technology changes for our check-out systems, self-checks and mobile checkout.

This Secretary of State has always been very supportive of libraries in the state of Missouri. We are hoping that public comments will bring reconsideration of this rule because of the potential widespread ramifications for libraries and the families they serve.

Regina Greer Cooper, Executive Director, Springfield Greene County Library