The Missouri State legislature passed bill RSMO 573.550 requiring public libraries to certify to the Secretary of State that it has policies in place to prevent youths under 18 from accessing obscene materials at public libraries.

The policies must be submitted to the Secretary of State’s office by Monday, July 31 for the library to receive state funding.

Maryville Public Library Director Stephanie Patterson said, “Our library trustees just approved some policy revisions June 13 to meet the Secretary of State’s new requirements.”

Patterson explains how the new requirements will affect the library.

On how the library will purchase books she said, “The new law and rule will not generally affect what we purchase to maintain a balanced collection, as most of our materials are purchased with Maryville property tax money. The law’s definition of obscenity refers only to visual depictions, not textual depictions, of overtly sexual activities which currently affects portions of our adult graphic fiction selection and probably several of our adult DVDs.

“So the material effect is that when state money is available, we’ll likely apply it toward other parts of our collection such as research databases and materials, audiobooks for all ages, children’s read-along books, and books for beginning readers.”

On the library’s layout: “We’re not expecting this to affect our existing layout. As in many libraries, our collections for kids versus adults are clearly separated. I imagine it may affect libraries in rare instances where the floor plan requires kids to walk through adult graphic novel displays in order to access a children’s area.

“Our policy revision cites our existing practice of classifying and arranging books based on categories connected to age groups, and we hope the state accepts that as compliant with the new rule.

“We’ve also created a new option for parents to prohibit checkouts of any adult materials on their cards. We will learn if our new policy revisions are compliant after we submit them to the state this month,” noted Patterson.

“Explicit sexual material” definition according to RSMO 573.550: “any pictorial, three-dimensional or visual depiction, including any photography, film, video, picture or computer-generated image, showing human masturbation, deviate sexual intercourse as defined in section 566.010, sexual intercourse, direct physical stimulation of genitals, sadomasochistic abuse or emphasizing the depiction of postpubertal human genitals; provided, however, that works of art, when taken as a whole, that have serious artistic significance, or works of anthropological significance, or materials used in science courses, including but not limited to materials used in biology, anatomy, physiology and sexual education classes shall not be deemed to be within the foregoing definition.”

Highlights from the MPL’s collection development policy:

• The Maryville Public Library endeavors to maintain a collection of good, representative books of enduring value and current interest.

• The library shall maintain a collection of materials for all ages from pre-school to maturity. Because of budget limitations, careful selection must be made from the hundreds of thousands of books and electronic resources that are published annually. This selection shall be made by the director in accordance with the general policy outlined here. In making decisions, the Director or designated staff shall consider the following:

A. Cardholder direct feedback and requests, circulation data, and observed local interests.

B. Current goals and objectives set by the MPL board of trustees.

C. Available demographic data to ensure the collection reflects the physical, ideological and generational diversity of the local service population.

D. Perceived quality as reflected by inclusion in core lists, reviews, and recognized awards. Inclusion of primary source material and citation of sources should be another factor in choosing nonfiction materials. Award lists created by cultural peers or target audience members can hold more weight than award winners selected by book industry professionals.

E. Inclusion across bestselling and recommended lists. If time permits, the director should examine or read the book.

• Books shall be ordered regularly consistent with the budget. Non-book materials shall be ordered as the budget permits.

• Regular weeding of the library collection is a vital part of the collection development cycle. Weeding not only makes space available for new materials, but also contributes to an attractive library where the best materials are easy to find and the convenience of the user is a top priority.

• In accordance with the Missouri Secretary of State Regulation regarding protection of minors (15 CSR 30-200.015), all materials must include age-appropriate designations.

a. MPL is committed to providing access to a diversity of viewpoints throughout its collection. Therefore, the Maryville Public Library Board of Trustees defines “age-appropriateness” based solely in terms of the observed reading habits of specific age ranges, reading levels, and inclusion of pictorial depictions of specific and explicit sexual acts as defined in RSMo 566.010 and required by 15 CSR 30-200.015.

b. MPL’s physical collection of materials are labeled and arranged among the following areas: “Easy” and “Easy Reader”, intended for ages birth through seven; “Youth”, intended for ages seven through 12; Young Adult, intended for ages 13-18; and “Adult”, intended for ages 18 and up. DVDs are labeled either “Adult” intended for ages 18 and up, or “Family” intended for all


c. MPL expects parents and caregivers to be present with all children while visiting the library. Library staff are not available to supervise children accessing the library collection.

d. Content within used book sales, and digital collections generally cannot be adequately labeled or separated by the library, so parents are advised to supervise their children’s access to all digital resources, including ebooks and the library’s Internet browsers, as well as book sales.

• Complaints concerning books or materials in the collection must be filed in writing using a Citizen’s Request for Reconsideration of Library Material Form (E-500). This form is available at the library desk and the library website. The request will be reviewed by the library director and any appropriate staff.

The director will respond to the individual in writing with the library’s decision, based on such factors as the information provided by the user, personal examination, how well the item meets the criteria for materials selection, consultation of review sources for the item, and how the item fits within the overall collection.

• Individuals who still have concerns about the material may request a hearing before the Maryville Public Library Executive Board of Directors by making a written request to the president of the board. The board reserves the right to limit the length of presentation and number of speakers at the hearing. After receiving testimony from the public and from the library director, the board will decide, based on the library’s policies, whether to uphold or override the decision.