LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) officially passed the motion to sue after new legislation on Arkansas libraries changed how content is classified.
The decision came during a board meeting discussing the pending lawsuit over new laws restricting libraries introduced during the 2023 Arkansas regular session.
Act 372 focuses on obscenities in libraries and even creates punishments if someone were caught "furnishing a harmful item to a minor."
The legislation generated mixed reactions, with supporters arguing that it would keep kids safe from inappropriate material, while others called it censorship.
"I like the great things a library can do," said Nate Coulter, executive director of CALS. "To be targeted and vilified and have the suggestion that somehow we're part of a threat to your child is offensive. Frankly, it's unwarranted."
When we spoke to him earlier this month, Coulter stated that they didn't want to file a lawsuit, but felt it was their only choice.
"Often, it's the only way," he said. "In this case, because the legislative process would end up like it did, and because the statute says you don't get any other option, you let the city board or the county quorum court, there's no, that's final. We believe a court should look at that.
Luke McCoy, a dad of four and a Pulaski County Quorum Court member, expressed his feelings about why the library shouldn't challenge the legislation.
"It creates a more transparent process that people can have confidence in when they go to question, or challenge or consider, a piece in the library to be moved," McCoy said.
Angela Hunter is also a parent and argued that the legislation goes against the "basic freedom of our democracy."
"I think this act micromanages libraries and librarians who are highly trained and skilled and who are protecting our communities already," Hunter said.
Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Jonesboro, led the bill and said he isn't surprised by the library system's decision.
"They're welcome to challenge it, but the idea that it's too broad, it's already in other states, and I doubt it will prevail," Sullivan said.