SALINE COUNTY, Ark. – The debate in Saline County about what books are appropriate for children reached a new turn Monday with the library director being fired.
Saline County library director Patty Hector confirmed to KARK 4 News that she was fired Monday.
The confirmation from Hector that she was fired came after a county spokesperson told KARK 4 News that she was no longer employed by the county.
Hector and others had been in an ongoing conflict over where books detractors classified as “sexually explicit” or “pornographic” are positioned in the library.
The controversy reached the county’s quorum court, which then passed a resolution in April mandating that certain books be out of reach in the library’s children’s section.
Hector had stated publicly that mandating book placement was akin to censorship.
Shortly after the resolution passed, the Saline County Republican Party put messaging on a billboard on Interstate 30 near the library’s main location that stated, “Director Hector must go.” A second billboard went up at the same time accusing the library of providing “X-rated” books.
Hector and others pointed out that the books found controversial by some were those that did not agree with a political agenda, such as books supporting LGBTQ+ or race discussions.
In August, the quorum court passed an ordinance moving control of the library’s hiring and firing away from the library board and to the county judge, a position currently held by Matt Brumley.
Book placement was further mandated by Act 372, passed during the legislative session, which changes state code for endangering the welfare of a minor to include sexual material and removes protection for library workers. The federal district court in the western district of Arkansas temporarily blocked sections one and five of the act, essentially making it moot before it went into effect.