Statement in Support of MASL

August 11, 2022

Dear Readers,

The Missouri Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee stands in solidarity with The Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL) in their opposition to pre-emptive removal, censoring, and labeling of library materials. We commend our school librarians on the excellent work they are doing in the face of SB 775 in Missouri, and strongly agree with the points they made in their recent statement

To reiterate MASL’s excellent points:

  • SB 775 includes language regarding “sexually explicit materials” in the school setting, but provides exemptions for works that are artistic or otherwise informational in nature. Since that accounts for the entirety of library collections, we strongly agree that school districts should refrain from removing, labeling, or censoring any library materials. We also suggest that organized efforts to undermine school libraries and the intellectual freedom rights of students are antithetical to the mission of public education.
  • Libraries should make sure to have collection development policies and reconsideration/challenge policies in place. If your library would like guidance on creating such policies, you can find it here.
  • Please contact the MLA-IFC if your library has materials that are being challenged, or pre-emptively removed from the collection. We are happy to offer letters of support and other assistance in that fraught and difficult situation.

Finally, we stress the importance of intellectual freedom, particularly to the agency and self-confidence of young people. For many of us, libraries are the first places we are able to truly explore the world of ideas freely and engage deeply with art, science, philosophy, and other concepts on our own terms. The joy and confidence this brings fuels a lifetime of learning and curiosity. Conversely, putting up roadblocks to inquiry, and undermining librarians and teachers sends the message that those in power are not interested in the wellbeing of young people. Working to criminalize librarianship and intimidate library and school boards into damaging their own institutions is a poor strategy long term, since doing so is a transparent effort to use moral panic as an opportunity to gain vulgar political ground. This ultimately serves no one. We instead ask for support for MASL and school librarians in general to do the important work of providing access to materials and helping students to encounter library collections in their entirety, and therefore have the opportunity to learn and to grow within school libraries and beyond.

Sincerely,

Joe Kohlburn
Missouri Library Association- Intellectual Freedom Chair, 2022

Casey Phillips
Missouri Library Association-Intellectual Freedom Committee Member/ Social Media and Communications

Otter Bowman
Missouri Library Association President-Elect

Kimberly Moeller
Missouri Library Association – Executive Board

Ying Li
Missouri Library Association-Intellectual Freedom Committee Member

Kris Dyer
Missouri Library Association-Intellectual Freedom Committee Member/Legislative Liaison