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Arkansas librarian out of a job for not 'banning books'

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Danielle Smith

(Arkansas News Service) In Arkansas and across the nation, book bans are becoming more common. The American Library Association says there were almost 700 attempts to censor library materials nationwide from January to August, and more than 1,900 challenges of specific book titles.

In Saline County, Patty Hector said she was removed from her position as library director for not banning books.

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She said a county judge and Quorum Court wrote a resolution advising her to pick out "harmful" books and move them so children couldn't access them. Hector said her response led to her being fired. 

"There's no place in the library that people can't get to. So I said no, and then that was what got me in trouble," she said. "I said no to them. And you don't say 'no' to a bunch of men. And the books they picked out are LGBTQ and race - two-thirds of them are."

As Hector described it, a resolution accusing her of fraud "was written by the Saline County Republican Committee." She added that after the committee reported her for "violating the Freedom of Information Act 90 times," she had to spend many months answering questions about her job and library expenses.

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Hector said the committee also put up a billboard on Interstate 30 that said "Stop X-Rated library books, SalineLibrary.com." 

She said some Arkansas lawmakers worked to pass a bill that would criminalize librarians - but that law was blocked by a federal judge this year. 

"Act 372 was going to make it a felony for a librarian to give anybody a book that's 'obscene,' which they couldn't define," she said, "and that has been determined by a judge to be unconstitutional."

Hector noted that several books with topics on sex education and homosexuality were under scrutiny. And a book entitled "The Talk", about conversations that Black parents have with their children, was another title the committee objected to.