OK House set to Further Restrict Kids' Access to Materials

As noted in an earlier LISNews story, the Oklahoma State Legislature is working on a bill to segregate library materials in all state libraries. As widely reported, the relevant text is as follows:

The Oklahoma Department of Libraries Board shall not grant or distribute any state funds that are allocated to libraries on a formula basis to any library, library district, or library system unless the library has taken action to place all children and young adult books and materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit heterosexual subject matter in an adult or special area in the library and the library has a policy in place to limit distribution of such books and material to adults only.

A version of the House bill, called a "Committee Substitute" has passed the state House Appropriations and Budget Committee. This bill is even broader than the previous version, expanding the blocked funding sources beyond ODL to include municipalities and individual library boards. It also includes requirements for annual reporting. There's no good way to link to the text of the Committee Substitute, so I've included the full text below the cut.
One of the first objections to the original bill was that it didn't define "sexually explicit subject matter". The new text blocks that objection by basing the definition on existing law, specifically Section 1024.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. That reads, in part:

3. "Sexual conduct" means and includes any of the following:

a. acts of sexual intercourse including any intercourse which is normal or perverted, actual or simulated,

b. acts of deviate sexual conduct, including oral and anal sodomy,

c. acts of masturbation,

Take just a moment and imagine the monumental task of deciding which materials in even a small library collection match that definition. Then imagine that you have to build a physical structure in your small rural library to bar access to these items for your young patrons. Whatever your views on homosexuality or children's rights to read, this bill creates a logistical nightmare and a terrible monetary burden on every library in the state of Oklahoma.SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 31-109 of Title 11, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

A. A municipal governing body or its appointed library board shall not expend or authorize the expenditure of any funds available for the operation of a public library unless the library has taken action to place all children and young adult materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit subject matter in a special area of the library which is separate and apart from the children and young adult sections of the library and the library has a policy in place to limit distribution of the material to adults only.

B. For purposes of this section, "sexually explicit subject matter" means content that describes or depicts sexual conduct as defined in Section 1024.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

SECTION 2. NEW LAW A new section of law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 2-110 of Title 65, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as follows:

A. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries Board shall not grant or distribute any state funds that are allocated to libraries on a formula basis to any library, library district, or library system unless the library has taken action to place all children and young adult materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit subject matter in a special area of the library which is separate and apart from the children and young adult sections of the library and the library has a policy in place to limit distribution of the material to adults only.

B. A library board or commission authorized pursuant to any provision of Title 65 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall not expend or authorize the expenditure of any funds available for the operation of a public library unless the library has taken action to place all children and young adult materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit subject matter in a special area of the library which is separate and apart from the children and young adult sections of the library and the library has a policy in place to limit distribution of the material to adults only.

C. Each public library which receives funds as provided for in subsection A or B of this section shall annually submit to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries a written report outlining the actions taken by the library to place all children and young adult materials that contain homosexual or sexually explicit subject matter in an adult or special area of the library. The report shall also include a copy of the policy adopted by the library to limit distribution of the material to adults only.

D. Public libraries, in developing a policy to limit distribution of material as provided for in subsections A and B of this section, shall reflect the contemporary community standard of the community in which the library is located and shall ensure that the rights and decisions of the parent to control access to the restricted material for their child is upheld.

E. For purposes of this section, "sexually explicit subject matter" means content that describes or depicts sexual conduct as defined in Section 1024.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

SECTION 3. This act shall become effective November 1, 2006.

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if its a logistical nightmare

...we created it. We made no attempt to differentiate between explicit books and ones that aren't.

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