April 28 UPDATE: The Indiana Legislature added some of the language of SB 12 into HB 1447. However, public libraries have been removed from the language; as passed, this bill only applies to school libraries.
Under this new legislation, schools will be required to have a process in place to allow individuals to challenge books on school library shelves. Most schools already have such processes in place.
The difference is that the 'educational defense' for keeping an item on shelves no longer applies: librarians can not claim that a book should be included solely because it is educational. Furthermore, the felony charge has been maintained in the final version of this bill. This means that if, after the above-mentioned challenge process has been exhausted, a prosecutor still finds the material to be harmful to minors under existing Indiana law, they may bring felony charges.
However, educators may use a 'scope of employment' defense to argue that providing materials falls within their job duties. You can read more about the content of the bill here.
HB 1447 quickly passed both the House and Senate and now heads to Governor Holcomb's desk.
We are relieved that public libraries have been spared the most concerning aspects of this legislation, but we are aware that this is not the end of the battle against censorship.
We would like to thank everyone who contacted their legislators to support their libraries. We would also like to thank all of the legislators who listened, paused, and considered the ramifications of such legislation.
APRIL 21 UPDATE: After the defeat of language calling for felony charges against librarians and educators in SB 12 and SB 380 earlier in April, the Indiana legislature is once more considering criminalizing librarians and educators for the materials on their shelves.
You can read about the revival of this legislation here.
We don't know for sure which bill this language will be slipped into this time, but we do expect it will be heard next week.
The fact of the matter is that local processes are already in place for parents or other concerned parties to challenge items on library shelves. These processes work and we support them.
The only thing legislation like this does is punish educators and librarians who give challengers a result they don't like - with felony charges and mandatory jail time.
The current legislative session has ended and the bill has been passed as it is described on this page. If you would like to share your opinion on the results, you can find your representative's contact information here.
email@example.com (vice chair)
Here is the general gist of our concerns with the language from the original version of this bill, SB 12:
SB 380 was an education bill about graduation rates that, at the last minute, had language from SB 12 inserted into an amendment. SB 12 is a bill about book challenges in school and public libraries.
With this amendment, SB 380 became a serious concern for libraries and educators because it meant we could be charged with a level 6 felony for the materials on our shelves. A level 6 felony comes with mandatory jail time (minimum 6 months). Level 6 felony charges are usually brought for things like strangulation, fraud, and property theft.
However, on April 10, the committee passed SB 380 WITHOUT the SB 12 amendment!