Ala. Public Library Service to post list of books some parents deem inappropriate for kids

Amid pushback from parents, the Alabama library service will publicly list books parents have taken issue with.
Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 6:50 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - There’s a new way to check out what your kids are checking out from the library.

The Alabama Public Library Service voted to post a list of books considered inappropriate for children on their website at Wednesday’s meeting. The list is solely based on submissions as the public will be able to send in titles they think are inappropriate which will then be posted to the APLS website and distributed to libraries.

The vote on this new feature wasn’t without passionate debate from supporters and opponents.

Jim Vickery was 11-years-old when he read a child’s biography about Ralph Bunche, a Black diplomat and Nobel Prize winner.

“If my mother’s friends had known that I had read that book, they would have been shocked in 1953,” said Vickery.

Today, Vickery is fighting to keep books whether they are considered inappropriate or not in public libraries.

“Race was the issue then, today it’s gayness and related matters,” he said.

Several people attended the Alabama Public Library Service meeting to speak out against books with topics they feel aren’t suitable for young readers. Hannah Rees with Clean Up Alabama wants those types of books removed from the children’s section in public libraries.

“This has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community specifically,” said Rees. “This has to do with sexually explicit content and radical ideologies that are being promoted to our young children.”

“The majority of the books that they’re bringing up for explicit sexual content also contain LGBTQ+ content. I want everybody to remember what’s really going on here,” said Lauren Boone with Read Freely Alabama.

Alabama Public Library Service has no power to ban or recommend what books are on library shelves. They are only a resource for the state’s libraries. During their meeting APLS voted to accept submissions from the public on titles and details of books they believe contain inappropriate content for kids, then place them on their website.

“Local libraries will not be required to do anything here. This is something that APLS is doing as a resource for parents and local libraries,” said John Wahl, APLS board member and ALGOP Chairman.

Supporters say the goal is to protect kids.

“Parents still have access to it if they want to buy this for their children,” said Wahl. “But we don’t want to have it in libraries where innocent children can stumble upon it.”

Opponents say stories about diversity deserve a spot on the shelves of libraries and that limiting what’s on shelves targets certain groups of people.

“It sounds so pretty when you say it’s protecting the children when really, that’s what is being marketed as,” said Boone. “But underneath it’s anti-LGBTQ+.”

Books that people submit will not be reviewed before being posted because APLS doesn’t have the authority to do so.

There is no timeline for when this feature will be available for submissions.

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