Public libraries are at the center of any town and state. They’re also at the center of the minds of concerned parents. And if you aren’t concerned about public libraries, you are not paying attention.

Public libraries are quintessential to society and rightfully so. That’s because books have the power to shape lives, perspectives, education, and humanity that no other form of media can.

You will find no greater supporter of books and public libraries than me. My mother was a well-beloved public librarian in our small Tennessee town. Her cure for all ailments was a book, and she always had the perfect suggestion. She passed this deep love and passion for the written word on to me, and I spent countless hours in the public library helping patrons and shelving books. Today, I have a room in my house that contains enough books to run my own public library containing history, theology, and classic literature. 

In essence, reading is a personal and enlightening experience. “I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough." John Adams wrote to his wife, Abigail. "The more one reads, the more one sees we have to read,”

Adams also said, “You will ever remember that all the End of study is to make you a good Man and a useful Citizen.” In considering this, it’s helpful to realize that not all books are created equal nor equally worth reading and distributing.

This is the point over which parents across Alabama are grappling. What kinds of books should be readily available in the children’s section of a public library? What books and morals are we comfortable presenting to all minors?

Educational books should certainly be available. Books considered classics, upheld by society over time, should also make this list.

But what about ideology — something not at all tested by science or time, something entirely new and easily disproven? I think this category can easily be regarded as unworthy of space on the children’s shelves of a public library.

The adult section certainly has books of every kind and theory. You can check out “The Communist Manifesto” by Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx or Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations.” You can check out books on gender ideology and sexuality.

But we have long recognized the difference between an adult reader and a child reader and not just by their respective reading levels. The “Kama Sutra” is largely a picture book, but I certainly would not allow my two-year-old to pick it up. And just because Hitler had propaganda geared toward children teaching them to hate Jews doesn’t mean that belongs in the children’s section of the library.

Seems like an extreme comparison, does it not? It really is the same. These books do not improve our children or society. They will not mold our children into good men and women and useful citizens.

Gender ideology and sexuality is based on sex and sexual feelings. It is not backed by science, history, or society. It has no value and no business going in front of children, much less mixed in with all the other books for them to accidentally select.

You can argue that a parent’s job is to filter what a child reads. Fair enough. But let us first acknowledge the job of the library. What the library puts on the shelves is government speech according to PETA v. Gittens (2005). Are we comfortable with the government being the ones to put this content in front of our children?

Off-the-wall ideology is the purview of parents, not the government. Parents choose how to handle these topics, not the government. Thus, a more logical solution is to move such books to the adult section so parents can choose whether to put them in front of their children.

Parents across Alabama are rising up and saying, “I am the parent, not the government,” an encouraging sight to see. Each parent can make a huge difference, and we must continue to push back to retain our roles and keep the government out of these local issues.

It’s a local issue first, so call your councilman. Call your mayor. Visit your library and look into its books. Parents should be pushing for local ordinances prohibiting libraries from having inappropriate books in their children’s section.

Then, push the Alabama Library Association to separate from the American Library Association, the driving force behind placing these books in the children’s section. There are so many things every parent can do to make a huge difference. Let’s work together to return our libraries to what they were meant to be: sources of education and societal improvement.

Laura Clark is a wife, mother, and community activist. She currently serves as the interim president of Alabama Center for Law and Liberty, a conservative nonprofit law firm that fights for limited government, free markets, and strong families in the courts.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to

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