SALINE COUNTY, Ark. – The Saline County Quorum Court voted to pass an amendment Monday night that hands over the library board’s authority to the county judge.
The move is said to be one that could put library director Patty Hector’s job on the chopping block.
KARK 4 News has reported on the story for months, ever since a state law passed this legislative session dealing with books said to be obscene in the kid’s section of libraries.
The law changes the state code for endangering the welfare of a minor to include sexual material and removes protection for library workers. The county also passed a resolution to ensure books found to be obscene for children are relocated away from the children’s section, into another part of the library.
Hector has spoken out with KARK 4 News against those measures.
A few dozen Arkansans protested outside the courthouse before the meeting, in support of the library and Hector.
Saline County Library Alliance Organizer Bailey Morgan said this is a political attack on Hector because she has fought to protect books focused on things like LGBTQ+ and race in place for children.
“I think it is a real shame that her job is on the chopping block for refusing to discriminate,” he said.
The ordinance has been supported by Saline County Republicans for months now. Mary Lewis told KARK 4 News the goal is to protect children, and Hector is one of the first concerns in the process of ensuring that protection.
“She has not followed the directions of the quorum court,” Lewis said, “She needs to shape up or ship out.”
Both sides of the issue believe the other has political motives. Morgan said there is no question whether the issue is political.
“Where I think the line really drawn is, is it partisan?” he said.
Lewis said Hector’s fight to protect these books over children shows where her priority is.
“I think it is her own political agenda to carry on the agenda and disseminate the liberal left agenda to the rest of the country… to small town USA,” Lewis said.
One major concern for everyone against the ordinance was that the amendment would just be the first step in eventually defunding the library.
One quorum court member who supported the measure Monday night went on the record and promised everyone he would oppose both that and banning books if that is ever up for a decision.
Morgan also told KARK 4 News that despite Monday night’s vote, their fight to support the library is not over. He did not clarify how they will be responding yet.