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Lawmakers deemed some books 'obscene materials': What that actually looks like

Library Books
Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-31 20:14:43-04

BOISE, Idaho — Disseminating "obscene materials" to minors was a topic that came up near the end of this year's legislative session.

House Bill 666 would have removed a defense in current Idaho Law. The defense in Idaho Code reads, "The defendant was a bona fide school, college, university, museum or public library, or was acting in his capacity as an employee of such an organization or a retail outlet affiliated with and serving the educational purposes of such an organization."

Removing the defense would open the possibility of criminalizing librarians in an official capacity.

Idaho Code 18-1514
Idaho Code that defines obscene materials

"This is more about the potential of criminalizing librarians for acting in their official capacity. This bill would do nothing to change the policies or procedures around how appointed trustees or head librarians go through that review process regarding of what materials they may or may not have in their collection," The City of Boise Government Affairs Director, Kathy Griesmyer, said.

Books undergo a peer review process from librarians across the country to determine appropriate materials, reading level, and target audience before being accepted into a collection.

A lot of the books that were brought up in public testimony were LGBTQIA-related or themed. Homosexuality is defined as obscene materials under Idaho law. This bill could not only criminalize librarians but could also be a step to later remove inclusive content.

During a search of the Boise and Meridan Public Libraries, Idaho News 6 did not find pornographic or sexually explicit content in the children or teen section.

Library officials strongly encourage parents to be active participants in what their children are checking out to ensure that they are finding age-appropriate materials. If you believe something is in the wrong section or should be reconsidered or pulled from a library's collection, speak with your librarian.