DHCLS confirms ‘sexually explicit’ not in kids section, won’t censor collection

Some are saying children are being exposed to what is being called "inappropriate material" in Alabama libraries.
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 7:29 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Concerns over ‘inappropriate material’ in public libraries has caused county leaders to address the public.

One library in Prattville was being accused of having sexually explicit reading material among the books in the children’s section. Another library in Shelby County is accused of causing a split in the community after posting a pride display centered around children’s books with LGBTQ characters.

After talking with county leaders, they determined it should be up to the parents when or if they want to expose their children to certain topics. Due to that, the library says sexually explicit content will not be amongst the kids section, but will still be available in the library.

Dothan Houston County Library Services Director Chris Warren promises the library will never subject children to anything that could be seen as inappropriate.

“We do not have sexually explicit material in the children’s collection,” said Warren. “We again make very careful, very informed decisions about what is developmentally appropriate, what themes are important and all of that to make sure we are serving the community the best we can.”

Chairman Brandon Shoupe feels censorship should not be enforced in the library as a whole, but ensures the county commission will draw the line at children.

“The library is probably always going to have books that I would object to, but that’s just part of a healthy democracy,” said Shoupe. “I don’t think it is a government official’s business to say you aren’t going to have this book or you aren’t going to have that book, but I do think it is within our wheelhouse to say we are not going to fund a library that’s going to have explicit content targeted towards children in the children’s section.”

With the content still available in the library, parents could be concerned their children may still find content they deem inappropriate. Luckily, Warren highlighted measures in place at the library to ensure a child’s safety.

“You can’t get a library card without a parent signature if you are under the age of 19,” said Warren. “If you are under the age of 13, you cannot be in the library without a parent or guardian. So, we do have policies in place to make sure that parents are involved.”

Shoupe and Warren are aware of the diversity in the Wiregrass. With numerous ways of life in the area, both want to provide a safe and welcoming place for people to access materials, books and any other needs they may have.

Warren feels the best way to ensure a safe and welcoming library is to keep doing things the way they always have at DHCLS.

“We are mindful of our community. We are mindful of how diverse it is, and we are also mindful of its general sensibilities,” said Warren. “That’s a very careful line for us to walk, but it’s how we know we can best serve our community.”

Warren praised his staff and board with DHCLS, saying their commitment to the library and their hard work is what makes it the place it is.

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