(Fargo, ND) -- A local library director is voicing heavy opposition against two proposed bills circulating North Dakota's legislative session, and voicing the possibility of challenging them legally if they pass in their current state.
North Dakota HB 1205 and SB 2360 both look to define "explicit sexual material" and ban libraries across the state from offering the materials to residents and patrons. Proponents of the bill, including HB 1205 Sponsor and House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R - District 37), has said in conversations with AM 1100 The Flag's What's on Your Mind program a bill like this is necessary because the acts depicted in the books are things "kids should not be exposed to." One local expert strongly disagrees with the bills proposed, and has testified against HB 1205 earlier this year.
"I would rather empower parents to have those conversations, to pay attention to what their kids are reading, viewing, [and] seeing. That is where that should happen, not some unilateral [and] single morality from the state [...]" said Timothy Dirks, The Director of Fargo's Public Libraries, "...This is impacting you. This is impacting your ability to read and see what you want from your public library, letting you make those decisions as opposed to the state. And I think that is the key thing. Folks need to understand that this will impact them."
If the same versions of the bills pass as they exist today, Dirks says the library may be forced to temporarily shut down as they catalog and verify the more than 316,000 physical and digital items in their collection are in accordance with the law. The director did not comment on how long a possible closure would last. If the laws pass as they currently stand, Dirks says there is a possibility of legal action being taken by the city against the state.
"I can only comment on as it exists, [but] I see that we would go to court..." said Dirks, when asked if a potential lawsuit is in Fargo's future, "It's too important, and we are certainly having those discussions on the city side."
In prior reporting, North Dakota's American Civil Liberties Union also voiced strong opposition to the bill. They also cited first amendment concerns as key reasons why they oppose HB 1205.