Treg Taylor, Alaska’s Attorney General, on Thursday issued a directive to public librarians across the state regarding the pornographic and arguably obscene content being increasingly pushed on to minors in libraries. This move follows growing public concern over books with graphic sexual content accessible to children and teenagers in both school and public libraries.
In a detailed letter, Taylor outlined the legal implications of providing such material to minors, highlighting three key areas: state criminal laws, municipal ordinances, and state and federal education laws. He emphasized the responsibility of librarians and educators in ensuring their collections do not violate these laws.
Key Legal Provisions Cited:
- Distribution of Indecent Materials to Minors (AS 11.61.128): This statute criminalizes the distribution of sexually explicit material to children under 16. The law requires proving the distributor’s age, intention, and knowledge of the material’s nature. Violations can be classified as a Class C felony.
- Enticement of a Minor (AS 11.41.452): This Class B felony involves communication with minors to engage in sexual acts. It stresses that actual engagement in these acts isn’t necessary for a violation; mere enticement or encouragement is sufficient.
- Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor (AS 11.51.130): This law applies to those aiding minors under 18 in breaking state laws.
Municipal Ordinances and Education Laws: The letter also references municipal ordinances, such as Anchorage’s, which make disseminating indecent material to minors a misdemeanor. In terms of education laws, while no direct statutes govern library materials, librarians in schools are required to provide library records of minors to parents or guardians.
The Attorney General urged librarians and school districts to review their policies and conduct to ensure compliance with these laws. He highlighted the importance of protecting minors and reminded public employees of the protections offered under Alaska’s Whistleblower Act for reporting violations.
Taylor said he hopes the letter will assist librarians in navigating and complying with the law, ensuring a safe and lawful environment for minors accessing library materials.