MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Questions over what books should be available for children in Alabama libraries are making their way to Alabama’s attorney general.
The Alabama Public Library Service Board voted earlier this month to request an opinion from Attorney General Steve Marshall’s Office, asking what authority the board has to regulate content in local libraries.
APLS Board Director Nancy Pack says that the request is being sent to the AG’s office Monday afternoon.
This stems from a group of Prattville parents who are concerned over certain books in the children’s section. That includes Hannah Rees, who has three children.
“Books about radical gender ideology, and then very sexually explicit and oftentimes pornographic materials for kids,” Rees said.
Rees says her and other parents’ concerns have largely gone unanswered by the library and city council over the last few months. Since then, the issue has grown statewide into the group “Clean-Up Alabama.”
Group members asked the APLS Board at their Aug. 10 meeting to consider their concerns with content and cut ties with the American Library Association, saying overall, that organization doesn’t align with Alabama values.
“We’re hoping we can create new policies in Alabama that reflect protecting our children and the values of our community. It’s not about censorship, it’s not about book banning. We absolutely don’t want that,” Rees said.
APLS Board Director Nancy Pack says the board does not have any official ties with the American Library Association nor do they receive funding from them.
Pack said in a statement about the ongoing issue:
“Public Libraries strive for neutrality and providing equal access to reliable information with differing viewpoints. Censorship in libraries presents a complex challenge as we aim to uphold the freedom of thought and provide a diverse range of perspectives for Alabamians, while also respecting community values and sensitivities. Finding that right balance between ensuring access to information and addressing various concerns is a critical endeavor.”
Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth also weighed in on the issue.
“It’s something we’re certainly going to look into,” Ainsworth said. “I’ve got twin boys, 13, and a daughter, 11, so as a parent, I think you got to be real careful what we expose children to.”
The APLS’s next Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 13 in Montgomery. Rees says the group plans to have parents from across the state attend.