(New York, NY) — In response to news that prosecutors in Wyoming are considering possible criminal charges against library staff after public complaints about “obscene” books in the library’s children and teen sections, PEN America’s director of free expression and education, Jonathan Friedman, offered the following statement: 

“The prospect of the state prosecuting librarians for stocking books in a public library should stop us all in our tracks. This would represent an astounding overreach of the government into people’s personal choices about what they read, and parents’ right to make their own decisions about what books they feel are appropriate for their children. It would also be a shocking case of punitive action by the state against those whose job it is to share knowledge and literature with the public. Constraints on access to a diverse array of literature are spreading across the country at an alarming rate, but officials in Wyoming are taking it to a new level of anti-democratic attack by proposing to prosecute librarians for making books that address sexual themes and LGBTQ+ issues available to the public. This must stop.”