Watch out, Librarians!


Nicky Walker, Staff Writer

Indiana state senators recently decided to crack down on library materials. Senators are currently debating a ban on “inappropriate” texts in school libraries, with extreme punishments for teachers found guilty of distributing “harmful or explicit” materials to students.


Senator Jim Tomes claims that educational purposes are not a proper justification for sharing harmful material with students. That term applies to any text that they determine “contains obscene matter or matters harmful to children,” as stated directly in the bill. Of course, this stems from the belief that explicit and harmful texts are frequent in school libraries. When Tomes was asked to name specific titles, he was unable to do so.


Senate Bill 12 establishes a process for parents to file complaints over texts they deem harmful. The bill certainly raised an uproar, and WFYI Indianapolis stated: “Because librarians and other school staff members may fear that a certain book could be construed as inappropriate by some parents, they may avoid stocking libraries with or teaching texts dealing with historical issues like slavery, Jim Crow laws and the Holocaust.“


South librarian Joanna Hahn said that she’s never been forced to remove a book from the library, but the Monroe County Community School Corporation has vetoed an unnamed book request in the past. Hahn struggled to find any rationale behind this action.


“There are students that don’t want bad language in their books, and they know where to find them,” said Hahn. “They don’t realize that every student in this state has a smartphone. Everybody has access to the internet, so if they want to read a book, they will read that book. There are some that don’t want any bad language in their books. You’re not going to find that in an adult-level book.”


Hahn finds it completely ridiculous that she could potentially be criminally charged for books that she did not select that have been sitting in the library for years. While this bill has not yet been officially passed, it has been referred to the House and awaits reading from the committee. Librarians and teachers all over Indiana could possibly find themselves in legal trouble if they do not monitor their available literature.