The Battle of Access: Mississippi’s New Law and the Fight for Information Freedom

guy montag burning books

In a world where information is increasingly digital and accessible, a new law in Mississippi is causing a stir. The law, Mississippi Code 39-3-25, part of House Bill 1315, has effectively banned anyone under the age of 18 from accessing digital materials made available through public and school libraries without explicit parental or guardian permission. This move has sparked a debate about the morality of censorship and the right to access information.

The law, which went into effect on July 1, 2023, has left libraries across the state scrambling to comply. It mandates that vendors providing digital resources must verify that all their materials comply with the state’s definition of “obscenity.” This definition is broad and includes any material that contains representations or descriptions of various sexual acts, cruelty, violence, or anything deemed “likely to be injurious or harmful to a child.”

The implications of this law are far-reaching. Any vendor with materials in their system depicting sexual reproduction, queerness, or even images of nude female breasts – often part of sexual education, reproductive education, and biology and anatomy books for those under 18 – would be out of compliance with the law. As a result, platforms like Hoopla and Overdrive, which are not set up to change access based on age or varying laws by the municipality, may have to shut down access altogether.

This law has been seen by many as a step towards limiting public goods like libraries and creating systems where young people in some states have access to a world of knowledge and resources, while others are shut out entirely. It disproportionately affects those with the least privileges – those in unstable homes, those without regular internet access, and those without active parents or guardians in their lives.

The First Regional Public Library has already posted an announcement on its homepage regarding the changes, and the Vicksburg Public Library is still figuring out how the law will impact its patrons’ access to digital materials. For now, they’ve developed a new system of library card distribution, requiring those under 18 to have parental or guardian consent to access materials.

Mississippi is not the first state to limit access to materials and place the onus of compliance on the vendors. Texas is undergoing similar changes, and it’s likely that this will lead to similar, if not more dire, lockouts of material access for students statewide.

This move by Mississippi and other states highlights the ongoing battle over access to information and the role of libraries in our society. As we continue to navigate the digital age, the question remains: who gets to decide what information is accessible and to whom?

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Pike Mall Tech: 12 May 2022

Today’s Links

No Butts About It


In case you haven’t heard, an assistant principal was recently fired because he chose to read the children’s book “I Need a New Butt” to a group of students.

Toby Price found out that, even though this is the dumbest reason for firing anyone in the history of ever, he still isn’t getting his job back.

Toby has shared his thoughts on this announcement in a thread of Tweets, posted here for your enjoyment.

I’ll just say this right now: with the content of most children’s books out there, to fire someone over a book about butts requires a special kind of an asshole.

There is a spot reserved in hell for administrators, parents, and members of the general public who think it’s ok to fire a teacher over reading a wildly popular children’s book that is available everywhere books are sold.

I would rant more on this but I can’t. It’s just dumb.

We’ll Ban All the Books, Even the Digital Ones

source: Wikimedia Commons

Public education is facing an unprecedented level of hatred from conservative Americans right now. New laws are being crafted to punish teachers for teaching content that is not “approved” by parent groups or might be offensive and entire curricula and books are being banned.

Now, some schools are banning access to digital books from repositories like Overdrive and Epic, removing thousands of resources from the hands of students and families.

Thousands of schools and public libraries use these services to provide a much wider array of books than they could within the limits of the physical space in their buildings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, families easily accessed books from home comfort to keep their kids engaged and learning while sheltering.

Enter the fear mongers.

With new laws in place requiring that any book used in a school be reviewed and chosen by a faculty member, the number of books available will drastically decrease.

With over two million titles, trying to get someone to review every book in Overdrive is not only an impossible request, it’s downright foolish.

No one could review all that content and approve it for student usage.

How much longer will we abide by such unsubstantiated fear and hatred?

“That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also”

Heinrich Heine


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Currently writing:

  • Volume 1: The Heretic Chronicles – a fantasy story about a girl, her sword, and extreme fundamentalist religion (WC: 15,457)
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