Supporters of the Fargo Public Library show support at Read-In

The event was a silent show of support for the Fargo Public Library, and a silent protest against House Bill 1205.

Supporters of the Fargo Public Library participating in the "read-in" on April 30, 2023.
Michael McGurran // WDAY News

It's quiet at the library on Sunday, April 30. People sitting down, with their faces buried in their books. But it's not necessarily business as usual today.

An advocacy group called Friends of the Fargo Public Library hosted a read-in in the Breezeway of the Library, to show their support for the library, and their opposition to House Bill 1205. A silent show of support, and a silent act of protest.

The bill mandates public libraries to remove or relocate what it calls explicit sexual material from public library children sections, and forces libraries to come up with policies and procedures to remove those types of books, and submit compliance reports on their policies to lawmakers.

"We are not the parent," Fargo Public Library Director Tim Dirks said. "House Bill 1205 essentially demands that we become the parent."

Dirks said the bill's language is too broad, too challenging to enforce, and it creates responsibilities that shouldn't be the job of librarians.


"It's hard to really judge what the impact is, the language is so difficult," Dirks said. "It's unworkable, it's clumsy, it doesn't take into account how people use libraries."

Further, he worries about the state using its power to censor ideas some may find offensive in libraries.

He's pleased Governor Burgum vetoed Senate Bill 2360, a bill which would have made employees of libraries liable to face misdemeanor charges for willfully exposing explicit sexual materials to a minor.

But he says we haven't heard the last from state libraries on House Bill 1205.

"The governor's signature on 1205 is not the end for us in terms of our response," Dirks said.

Mike McGurran has been a reporter and anchor at WDAY-TV since 2021.
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