An ordinance that would have restricted reading material for youths in Tremonton will be repealed tonight before the law even had a chance to hit library shelves.
On April 21, Tremonton City Council members approved an ordinance that would have required people under the age of 18 to obtain written parental consent before checking out books like J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," an Anne Rice mystery, Louis L'Amour's Western novels or the Latter-day Saint series "The Work and the Glory," by Gerald N. Lund.
"I thought (the ordinance) was kind of weird," said Councilman Lyle Holmgren. "It went against my better judgment..."
According to Holmgren, who also is a member of the library board, this ordinance was part of a checklist of things left behind when former City Manager Rich Woodworth left his position for another job. And, while Homgren vaguely remembers some discussion months back about the possible need for some changes, he said he wasn't even sure what the original intent of the ordinance was. But in hindsight, he does know it wasn't written right.
Despite his misgivings, Holmgren said he pitched the ordinance to the remainder of the council, which offered its unanimous approval. The new policy applies to adult fiction, a genre in which the main character or protagonist of the story is an adult.
"Subject and storylines are typically consistent with the age and experience of the main character. Stories are not always suitable for those under 18 years of age or sensitive individuals ... May have sexual content, or strong adult themes," the ordinance reads.
Kim Griffiths, the head librarian of the Tremonton City library, said she was shocked when Holmgren called her to inform her of the pending law.
"We didn't know where that was coming from" she said.
In addition to the titles and authors previously listed, Griffiths said the ordinance would also affect books ordered in large print, many of which are specifically ordered because they do provide "clean" reading material. However, the library has not made any changes yet, because the ordinance may never become official.
The same evening the ordinance was approved, Holmgren questioned his own actions and started checking into the necessary steps to make sure the new law didn't happen.
"It was not our intention to restrict people from checking out books, especially our youth," said Holmgren. "It comes back to parents moderating what their children are reading. I don't want it to be Tremonton city's role to decide who reads what."
And that, he said, is why he has moved as quickly as possible to get the new law off the books.
"I'll take my own heat on this one," Holmgren said.