Saline County Library Director Fired for Keeping ‘X-Rated” Material in Children’s Section

A Saline County judge in Central Arkansas, Matt Brumley, has fired Patty Hector from her position as the director of the Saline County Library. This decision comes after a prolonged and contentious debate over the availability of certain books described as pornographic to children in the library.

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The termination of Patty Hector, who had led the Saline County Library for seven years, occurred on Monday, approximately seven weeks after county officials vested Judge Brumley with the authority to hire and fire library staff.

The central point of contention in Saline County has been the question of what content should be accessible to children within the confines of public libraries.

A segment of the county’s residents has been vocal in their belief that materials related to racism, sexual activity, and LGBTQ+ topics should not be accessible to individuals under 18, decrying it as “indoctrination.”

The controversy began in April when the all-Republican Saline County Quorum Court recommended that the library “relocate materials that are not subject-matter or age-appropriate for children, due to their sexual content or imagery, to an area that is not accessible to children.”

Patty Hector’s refusal to comply with this recommendation drew the ire of conservative groups. In May, she publicly stated that there was “nothing wrong with” the books in question.

This stance by Hector led to tensions with Judge Brumley, who expressed a “high degree of concern” during a regularly scheduled library board meeting in May. He also reminded board members of his role in their appointments.

Hector’s contention that relocating books was equivalent to banning them created a sharp divide between her and the public and the quorum court.

Calls for her removal from office grew in intensity, including the prominent display of a billboard in Benton, sponsored by Saline County Republicans in June, which read “Director Hector MUST GO” and previously stated “STOP X-rated library books.”

In an interview on Monday, Hector acknowledged that she had anticipated her dismissal. She expressed relief at being “free at last,” emphasizing the emotional toll of jeopardizing her job security for five months.

She characterized the situation as “rude and uncalled for [and] not professional.”

Saline County’s library board was established by a 1978 county ordinance, granting it “full and complete authority” over library maintenance and the “exclusive right and power” to acquire library materials.

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