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State library service launches citizen-driven “naughty list” for books

The list will not be published to the public, as it is intended to serve as a resource for librarians.

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The Alabama Public Library Service on Thursday launched a submission form for Alabamians to voice concerns about books they find inappropriate.

The board voted unanimously earlier this year to create the portal at the recommendation of District 5 board member and ALGOP chair John Wahl.

The list will not be published to the public, as it is intended to serve as a resource for librarians.

The form can be accessed here.

The form asks petitioners to submit the book title, the page numbers where objectionable content is found, the citizen’s name, phone number and address, whether the person is filing on behalf of self or organization, the organization name (if applicable), what Alabama library and what section the book was found in, whether they have read the entire book or only part, where they feel the library book should be located and a signature.

Librarians will not be required to take any action based on the list, and APLS staff will not be vetting the content of books—meaning any book challenged will end up on the list.

The list is in response to a spate of book challenges across the state, largely challenging LGBTQ content as well as some books with “sexually explicit” content.

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The group Clean Up Alabama, which began in Prattville, expressed frustration with the local library refusing to move the books without undergoing an official reconsideration process, and with local governing bodies mostly deferring to the library board. That frustration led them to petition the state library board to do something, although board members have questioned the agency’s authority to govern content. The board is still awaiting an opinion from the attorney general’s office on that issue.

The board has also begun the process of amending its code to reflect changes requested by Gov. Kay Ivey that would include making state aid conditional on libraries having policies in place on how to handle challenged materials.

The board is also considering disaffiliating from the American Library Association, but has delayed that vote to March to consider more of the pros and cons of a departure.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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