SALINE COUNTY, Ark. – Saline County Judge Matt Brumley addressed the media for the first time Monday, in light of the controversy regarding the county library and concerns over sexually explicit material in the children’s section.
It is an issue that has been in the headlines for months now, all having to do with the library’s books that are said to be too sexually explicit for the children’s section, according to concerned citizens in the county.
“I believe as an elected official, if something is brought to our attention and it is looked to and investigated, it deserves our attention if something is found to be valid it just be addressed,” Brumley said.
Brumley made note of Act 372, passed in the most recent legislative session in Arkansas, and said it mandated some action be taken regarding book placement in any library in the state.
The law, due to go into effect Aug. 1, makes it illegal to position material in a library “that depicts or describes nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or sadomasochistic abuse,” to a minor.
The county quorum court also passed a resolution on April 17 to call for the library to keep sexually explicit material out of the library children’s section. That resolution was non-binding, but done in anticipation of the upcoming law, he noted.
Now up for discussion in the quorum court is an ordinance, with an amendment that would give Brumley oversight over the library.
“Constitution amendment 55 gives a county judge the authority to hire and fire those county employees that do not fall under an elected official,” Brumley said.
Brumley noted statements made in the media accusing county elected officials of having motivations to marginalize people groups based on their sexual preference or skin color. Library director, Patty Hector has previously spoken to KARK 4 News, making similar claims.
“There is nothing wrong with those books, we buy books for everyone in this community, and every child should be heard and seen and supported and not marginalized because they are not white or straight or Christian,”
Hector declined to comment on the issue Monday, following Brumley’s press conference.
We reached out to the Saline County Library Alliance, who has supported Hector and the library throughout the controversy, for comment. A spokesperson referred us to a statement that was released June 22, regarding threats and harassment.
Brumley said once he heard of these claims last week, he called law enforcement in the county himself to report what he had heard and allow them to investigate.
“I need to tell people it is not okay nor appropriate to threaten or dehumanize other people,” Brumley said. “It is not.”
The Saline County Library Board met right after the press conference Monday to accept a member’s letter of resignation. They did not say why that person is stepping down.
The board also agreed to send out a request for legal services, specifically saying they are looking for 1st Amendment or Constitutional lawyers, by July 10.
As of now, the law requiring books be moved to outside of the kid’s section if they are found to be sexually explicit, is set to go into effect August 1.
“I believe some of those books are very valid to have concern over,” Brumley said, noting the books that have been presented to the quorum court, coming from the county library.
He emphasized that there has been no intention to remove books from the library, only relocate some to other areas within it, if they do have sexually explicit content.
Additionally, there has been no plan to ever defund the library.