Missouri’s new effort to punish libraries is vindictive & harmful

By James Tager

Late last month, Missouri’s House passed a budget that would strip all state funding for public libraries — $4.5 million in total.

Republican lawmakers say they are doing this to retaliate against a lawsuit by Missouri librarians, who hope to see a new law against “explicit sexual material” in schools — in reality, a book banning mandate — declared unconstitutional. 

The book ban mandate, which was tacked on as an amendment to a larger bill expanding the rights of sexual assault victims, treats school librarians as potential sex criminals.

It has already struck fear in the ranks of librarians statewide.

This effort to defund public libraries is vindictive and would harm Missourians, especially children who lawmakers are claiming to protect, by shrinking access to libraries’ educational materials and programs.

The budget proposal is about political power — with children as pawns. Here’s what happened.

In August 2022, Missouri passed Senate Bill 775 that created important new protections for sexual assault survivors. 

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