A library is a place where a children can lose themselves in books. One Louisiana Lawmaker fears libraries are also places where kids might cross paths with a sexual predator.
State Senator Dale Erdey has presented S.B. 162, a bill that would ban anyone convicted of sexually abusing a child under the age of thirteen from being within 1,000 feet of a library, even one on a university campus. Governor Bobby Jindal has expressed support for the bill, which will come before the legislature this current session.
Ivy Woodard-Latin, PR coordinator with Shreve Memorial Library in Shreveport, says some procedures are already in place to help insure the safety of children. Currently, children under ten years old are not allowed to be unaccompanied in the Library. The library does not take a stance on whether it would prefer to ban sex offenders from entering, or if S.B. 162 should be passed, but Woodward-Latin does say it will uphold the law, whatever the outcome.
People who use the library see the issue from all sides. Some think it wise to keep covicted child abusers away from a place of learning. Others are concerned that the government is overreaching. The Library is a public institution, open to everyone, and it remains to be seen if the Louisiana Legislature thinks a child sex abuse conviction should strip someone of their right to use it.
If S.B. 162 is passed, sex offenders will not be completely shut out of the library system. Shreve Memorial's website feature e-books and movies that can be downloaded to any computer, tablet, or smartphone. But the quiet atmosphere of the library may soon not be available to those convicted of sex-crimes against children.