Is This the End of the Limitless Library?



Y'all know I am a huge fan of the Nashville Public Library, and that I am completely thrilled with the Limitless Libraries program — which in effect turns Nashville's public high school and middle school libraries into fully functional branches of the Nashville Public Library system.

So just like I can hear about a book, search for it in the library's catalog, find it in any branch, and have it shipped to the Bordeaux library for me to pick up, a Nashville teenager can hear about a book, search for it in the library's catalog, find it in any branch, and have it shipped to their school library for them to pick up.

They go from having the resources of their school library at their fingertips to having the resources of our wonderful public library at their fingertips. This program is awesome.

The Tennessean asked a question that stopped me cold:

The legislature has said the only approved approach to sex is that only married men and women should have it; so, what to do about these books in school libraries?

Schools are banned from encouraging, offering access to materials or discussing anything that can be considered as promoting a “gateway” sexual activity. It would seem logical that Tennessee must now cull its libraries of such offending material.

I don't say this often, but I think The Tennessean is right. If parents can sue teachers and schools for promoting "gateway" sexual activity, how can any school resist culling its library? The legal liability they would have for a student stumbling across something the legislature thinks they shouldn't is huge.

If HB3621 becomes law, I don't see how Metro can keep the Limitless Libraries program, since the schools are essentially saying that everything in the Nashville Public Library is permissible for kids to read. The schools are promoting the books in the public library to the kids. The schools are then promoting the content of those books to kids. That'd be in violation of this law.

We're going to lose a great thing, because it would be fiscally irresponsible for schools not to censor the books kids can read.

That is depressing and scary. Rather than incorporating kids into the intellectual life of the city, we're going to be forced by the legislature to keep them cut off from any books that aren't pre-screened.

We complain that kids can't read and we complain that kids don't read. I hope we're ready to complain that kids aren't allowed to read.

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