Jonesboro Public Library Hires New Director Following Controversies Over Pro-LGBT, Sexually-Explicit Reading Materials

On Thursday the Jonesboro Sun reported that the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library Board hired Vanessa Adams to serve as the library’s new executive director. The decision comes after the library’s previous executive director and assistant director resigned late last year.

The Jonesboro Public Library made headlines multiple times in recent months over controversial material in the library’s children’s section.

In June the library placed a large selection of pro-LGBT material in its children’s library area. One mother noted that the picture books showed very young children identifying with different sexual-orientations. The publishers’ age range for these books reportedly was as young as four years old.

In October a Fort Smith attorney and a former library board member filed a lawsuit alleging that the library board’s Sensitive Content Subcommittee violated Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Act.

The lawsuit alleged that the subcommittee met after learning that “several books in the library’s children’s section contain nudity, sexual conduct, and graphic images of various sexual acts,” but failed to properly advertise the subcommittee meeting to the public ahead of time as required by state law.

Because the meeting was not advertised, parents and families did not know that the subcommittee was meeting to discuss the presence of sexually-explicit material in the children’s library — meaning they did not have an opportunity to make their voices heard about the graphic material.

Following the controversy, the Jonesboro Sun reports that the Jonesboro Public Library’s executive director and assistant director submitted their resignations late last year, citing “the surrounding uproar following the gay pride display as the reason for their departures.”

Families should be able to walk into a public library without worrying about the books that might be in the children’s area. Hopefully, families in Jonesboro will be able to do that in the future.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.

Jonesboro Public Library Board Faces Lawsuit Citing Unpublicized Meeting, Graphic Material in Children’s Area

On Wednesday Family Council received a press release from Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen announcing that he and his client, Amanda Escue, had filed a Freedom of Information Act complaint in court against the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library Board.

The lawsuit alleges that the Library Board’s Sensitive Content Subcommittee violated the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

According to a press release from McCutchen, the subcommittee met after learning that “several books in the library’s children’s section contain nudity, sexual conduct, and graphic images of various sexual acts,” but failed to properly advertise the meeting to the public ahead of time as required by state law.

Because the meeting was not advertised, parents and families did not know that the subcommittee was meeting to discuss the presence of sexually-explicit material in the children’s library — meaning they did not have an opportunity to make their voices heard about the graphic material.

This is not the first time that concerns have come up about books in the children’s section of the Jonesboro Public Library.

In June the library made headlines after placing a large selection of pro-LGBT material in its children’s area.

In August the library board discussed proposals to move pro-LGBT material out of the children’s area. However, those good proposals failed to pass.

Below is a copy of the press release from attorney Joey McCutchen regarding the lawsuit against the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library Board.

Normally, we would link to a copy of the lawsuit itself, but the filing contains examples of the sexually-explicit material allegedly featured in the Jonesboro Public Library’s children’s area; some of that material is so graphic that our team did not feel comfortable posting it on our website.

PRESS RELEASE
Joey McCutchen, 479-806-4878

Fort Smith Attorney Joey McCutchen, along with his client Amanda Escue, filed a FOIA complaint against the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library Board.

The lawsuit arose after the “Sensitive Content Subcommittee” — a subcommittee of the parent library Board — met without giving notice to the public. The Subcommittee is comprised of Library Director David Eckert and three members of the parent library Board.

The Subcommittee meeting in question was held after the parent Board was notified that several books in the library’s children’s section contain nudity, sexual conduct, and graphic images of various sexual acts. Examples include the books “Gender Queer,” “It’s Perfectly Normal,” and “l8r, g8r.” The Subcommittee members discussed their opinions about whether or not it should be the Board’s responsibility to screen these books from the children’s section of the library.

Library Director David Eckert told the other Subcommittee members that no advertising of the Subcommittee meeting was necessary. Eckert added that he was confident that the Subcommittee meeting was in compliance with all FOIA requirements.

McCutchen said, “The Arkansas Supreme Court has clearly held that subcommittee meetings are subject to the notice requirements of FOIA. The Board had an obligation to notify the public and the press of this meeting.”

McCutchen added, “Parents have a right to know when library book shelves are being filled with sexually-explicit material. When library meetings are held in secret, parents can’t participate and don’t know what their children are being exposed to.”