Louisiana AG creates online portal to report books
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry created a new online portal for concerned community members to report books. The portal encourages people to share their experiences with librarians, teachers, school board members, district superintendents and library supervisors.
According to the president of the Louisiana Association of School Librarians, Amanda Jones, there is already a system in place at every library where anyone can report or challenge a book. She believes this new system is disheartening and a step in the wrong direction.
“Books can change lives and they can save lives, but they’ve got to exist,” Jones says. “And If we start censoring them and we start taking books out of libraries just because one small faction of people do not like a book, you’re destroying the foundation of what the First Amendment stands for.”
Jones says educational workers and librarians prioritize the safety of all children, and she believes this shows the distrust the Attorney General has for the profession.
“Educational professionals and library workers work incredibly hard everyday to ensure the safety of our kids. Like that’s our number one goal is the safety of our students,” Jones says. “And to say otherwise, to suggest that we’re giving pornography our erotica or inappropriate materials to children is a slap in the face and is absurd.”
When asked which specific books are drawing concerns, Landry declined to answer. “If you did a simple google search on the types of books that people were complaining about, you probably would be able to find those,” Landry says. He added that he finds the books offensive himself.
Jones says that censorship is a slippery slope and will ostracize those in underrepresented communities.
“According to the American library association, the top ten challenged books… all ten of them are either written by an author of color, or have a character of color, or they are written by an LGBTQIA+ author, or have characters that are of the LGBTQ community,” Jones says.
Though there are systems in place at every library, Landry says the portal provides concerned citizens with an avenue to report their concerns to legislation. He says he hopes to create a full report on the inquiries received, but did not specify a time or method of distribution.
“I’m consistently getting questions about what can we do about these books that we’re seeing or in our public libraries,” Landry says. “So in order to determine whether or not these books should be accessible to all ages, we’re taking input from the public and then we’re also looking at the governing structure of the library boards.”
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