A Statement from the Cape Girardeau Public Library

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The mission of the Cape Girardeau Public Library is to be the community’s first choice for information-gathering, experiences through social interaction, programming, technology, and the written word for all ages.

The Cape Girardeau Public Library wishes to provide additional information to the community, and especially to our library patrons, regarding the selection, location, and review of materials in our collection, particularly with regard to books for children and teens.   


Pornographic or Obscene Materials

There are no pornographic materials in the library’s collection, as defined by state law in Missouri Revised Statutes Chapter 573. The library is fully compliant with all state laws regarding pornography in any form.   

There are no obscene materials in the library’s collection as defined by state law and further defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. California in 1973. This decision established a three-part test for obscenity, which is used to determine whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions specifically defined by applicable state law; and whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” None of the materials in the library’s collection meet the requirements of this test.

The library is also fully compliant with Missouri 15 CSR Section 30-200.015 – Library Certification Requirement for the Protection of Minors, effective May 2023.

Further, in November 2021, the Cape Girardeau Police Department received a complaint regarding employees of the library providing pornography to children. Officers interviewed library staff, reviewed the materials cited in the complaint, and made a required report to the Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor. Neither the police department nor the prosecutor’s office found any grounds for further action.


Access to Materials

The library’s Materials Selection Policy states, “The library collections for patrons under the age of 18 are split into two collections, juvenile and teens/young adults. In general, decisions to place particular items in the collections are made by the standard that the average person, applying contemporary community standards nationwide, would find that the material, taken as a whole, has a tendency to appeal to ages 0 through 11 for the juvenile section and ages 12-18 for the teen/young adult collection; and/or the publisher’s suggested age range, if available.”  

The library is prohibited by legal precedent from relocating books which have been determined to be written for children or for teens to other sections of the library, such as to the adult collection or to a “secured” location. In 2000, the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas issued a ruling in Sund v. City of Wichita Falls, TX that found that moving library materials on the basis of disapproval of content is unconstitutional under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.  

The library’s Materials Selection Policy further states, “The library assures free access to its holdings for all patrons who are free to select or reject for themselves any item in the collection.  Individual or group prejudice about a particular item or type of material in the collection may not preclude its use by others.”


Requests for Reconsideration

The library’s Request for Reconsideration Policy states, “Once an official Request for Reconsideration is received, the Director, along with the necessary Library staff, will examine or review the material, presentation, event, or display in question and determine whether it conforms to the standards of Library policy.” The policy goes on to say, “For materials reconsideration, the Library Director, with the Materials Selection Committee, will decide whether or not to add, withdraw or restrict the material in question and will write to the complainant giving reason for the decision. Decisions on reconsidered materials will stand for two years before new requests for reconsideration of those items will be entertained.”    

The library collection contains roughly 100,000 physical titles. In the past two years, no books have been requested for reconsideration from within the juvenile collection. Requests for reconsideration have been received for two books from the teen/young adult collection. The requests were for This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and The V-Word by Amber Keyser. In addition, requests for one book from the adult collection were received--for Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. All three books were reviewed per policy and were found to conform to the standards of library policy.   


Parental Monitoring

The library’s Materials Selection Policy states, “Children are not limited to the juvenile or teen/young adult collections, although these collections are kept together to facilitate use. Responsibility for a child’s reading must rest with the parent or guardian, not with the library.” 

In June 2023, the library’s Use Policy was revised to include the following:  “Any borrower’s card issued to any person under the age of 18 shall require the knowledge, consent, and written authorization of at least one of the application’s parents or legal guardians with whom the applicant resides, stating that the parent understands that library staff, directors, or other official persons affiliated with the library do not have supervisory duty over their child and that it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor the child’s behavior and consumption of content, in any and all forms. If the parent is unwilling to sign the agreement, a library card will not be issued to the minor applicant.”

The library encourages patrons to speak with library staff and administration about any concerns they have pertaining to their use of the library. In addition, the Board of Trustees welcomes Public Comment at library board meetings. Notices of these meetings and procedures for Public Comment can be found on the library’s website at www.capelibrary.org.  

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