Library Modifies Policies in Accordance With New State Rule

Tuesday, August 15, 2023
The Kansas City Public Library has added and modified a number of its policies in response to a new state rule regarding the age appropriateness of materials and programming. 

The changes give parents and guardians an added avenue of control over minors’ access to books and other Library resources, allowing them to request the deactivation of the youths’ library cards. There are new provisions for identifying programs and activities that might only be suitable for those 18 and older, along with guidelines for challenging those age designations. Similar challenge procedures pertain to Library materials and displays.  

You can access the Library’s full collection development policy here

Missouri’s new administrative rule, drawn up by Secretary of State John R. Ashcroft, went into effect May 30, 2023, and applies to state-funded libraries across the state. With its policy revisions, the Library looks to comply with the rule while preserving patron access to its broad menu of services. 

A rundown: 

Age appropriateness: The Library’s collection development plan continues to specify that children’s collections are intended primarily for children through age 13 and teen collections for individuals ages 13-18. 

Pornographic or obscene materials: Missouri’s guidelines prohibit the use of state funds for materials that constitute “child pornography” or are “pornographic for minors” or “obscene.” Simply put, the Kansas City Public Library does not purchase pornographic materials. 

Parental oversight: The Kansas City Public Library has always invited and encouraged the involvement of parents and guardians in what children read or otherwise access. In response to the state’s call for a formal policy – allowing parents and guardians “to determine what materials and access will be available” to minors – the Library now permits them to seek deactivation of the library cards of their minor children. 

Parents who wish to do so must complete and submit a form that can be picked up at any Library location or mailed to them. If the child’s Library account was created through a school system, the parent must contact the school or system to initiate the request. Requests can take up to seven days to process. 

The child’s card is not deleted but rather deactivated until the youth turns 18, blocking them from checking out materials, using computers, or accessing such online resources as e-Books and databases. 

Note that there remains no age requirement to obtain a library card. As the Library states on its website, “There are many factors that parents/guardians may take into consideration when or if they’d like their child(ren) to have their own card and those differ from family to family. Therefore, the Library does not presume to impose age restrictions.” 

Events and age appropriateness: The Library already delineates programs for children, teens, and adults in its online listings. Beyond that, individual programs that may be too mature for some audiences will now be designated as suitable only for those 18 and older, a distinction noted in all online and print promotional materials. 

The 18-and-older designation would be for informational purposes only. By both policy and rule, the Library won’t prohibit entry to a public event. 

Challenges to age designations: A parent or guardian who lives in the Library’s service area can challenge the age-suitability designation for materials, presentations, and other events or displays. This is atop the Library’s longtime procedures for requesting reconsideration of materials. 

An individual raising an age-appropriateness challenge must fill out a form, available at any Library location. A staff committee will be formed to evaluate the request for reconsideration; a decision may take up to 60 days. 

Individuals can submit one challenge at a time and no more than three in a calendar year.