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Boise libraries to update policies ahead of new 'harmful materials for minors' law

Boise Library
Boise State Public Radio
Boise Library

Last week, Boise’s Library Board of Trustees voted on updating their policies to comply with Idaho’s new law allowing people to request certain materials be moved to adults’ only sections.

Come July 1, Idaho libraries will have 60 days to respond to written complaints challenging whether certain books should be accessible to minors. To comply, Boise’s director will review complaints first and then the board of trustees can adopt or modify the director’s decision.

Speaking at the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday. Library Director Jessica Dorr said the library will consider all requests and review them following a three prong analysis.

The library will consider whether the material portrays patently offensive sexual content, if they appeal “ to the prurient interest of minors as judged by the average person applying community standards” and if as a whole it has no serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for older minors.

If the materials are moved, libraries will still be able to loan them to minors with parental permission.

All Boise public library locations will have printed copies of request forms and direct people on how to submit complaints, which includes providing an email address to receive requests. The library will also train staff on the new law and their role in implementing it.

Dorr said the requests for removal will also be publicly available online. This, she added, will help Idahoans understand which books are being challenged. 

“For each submission, a case file will be created and uploaded to the library's website. And this was important in terms of that transparency,” Dorr said.

Dorr said the library will not make decisions lightly.

“The decision to censor is unappealable. So that responsibility needs to be really top of mind,” she added.

After a review, if the library disagrees with moving the material, the person filing the complaint can sue for $250 in damages. Complaints can be filed by anyone and the law applies to any community schools in Idaho, as well as those in public and private schools.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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