On November 20th, Sarah Sanders announced her appointment of former state Senator Jason Rapert to the Arkansas State Library Board. There’s no beating around the bush here: this would be disastrous for libraries across the state. Our public libraries are already coming under attack, from the firing of Saline County library director Patty Hector to the gutting of Craighead County’s system.

Jason Rapert has openly discussed banning books, advocates for cutting library finances across the state, considers anyone who disagrees with him a “radical leftist,” and is a proud “Christian Nationalist.” Christian nationalists openly seek to make government conform to their narrow “Biblical worldview” in blatant violation of the First Amendment

Just because the only books Rapert’s ever read are the 66 books of the Bible doesn’t mean the rest of us should be limited by the government in our book choices. 

We see a theme here. In his order preliminarily enjoining Sen. Dan Sullivan’s book ban, Judge Timothy Brooks said much the same. Folks like Sullivan and Rapert only care about rights as a political tool; they do not actually care about protecting those rights. 

The State Library Board lists the following “goals and objectives”: 

Rapert hates public libraries, and the damage he could do to the above goals is immense. His worldview does not allow for any debate or nuance, and he will use this position to further restrict access to a public service. He will use his position to attack libraries, their employees, and their entire reason for existing. 

We’re not the only ones who think this: there’s bipartisan opposition to Rapert’s appointment. Sen. Bryan King (R) and Sen. Greg Leding (D) have both announced their opposition to Rapert’s appointment. The confirmation hearing is scheduled for Friday, December 15. There’s no firm count on other senators’ votes.  

We can’t let this happen, Arkansas. Stand up for libraries by letting your representatives know our libraries — and First Amendment rights –– deserve to be protected.