In a time where book challenges and new bills restricting access to books are sweeping the country, it is easy to feel helpless whether you are immediately affected or not. For those library professionals are not personally facing book bans and challenges, there are still ways to prepare yourself if something happens in your community and to support library professionals and educators who are affected.
Learn the Word and Spread the Word.
Stay up-to-date on the current challenges happening across the country. Read studies on the increase in book bans. Check your sources and make sure information is accurate and then share this information with your network and beyond. Many people are not aware that this is happening.
Focus on the Now.
When making book displays for Banned Books Week, focus on books currently being challenged like Maus and “Gender Queer,” , instead of historically challenged titles. Talk about challenges that have been made this year, this month, this week, instead of from all time.
Familiarize yourself with your libraries collection development policy. Talk to your workplace supervisors about preparing a written response ready if anyone challenges books. Keep your supervisors aware of challenges across the country and try to make sure your organization is on the same page if anything happen. Keep abreast of what organizations can be there to assist you like the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom, PEN America, and the Freedom to Read Foundation.
Write Letters and Attend Meetings.
If there is trouble in any areas near you, attend the board meetings where these titles are being addressed. Opposing groups are coming out in droves and it’s important to resist. If you’re not able to attend a meeting, write a letter to local boards and legislators, stating your stance.
Express Your Ally ship.
When meeting other librarians or educators, introduce yourself as an ally for keeping books in libraries. Don’t be quiet about it and don’t assume everyone knows you’re an ally. If you see someone having trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out and offer support in any way possible, emotionally, financially, or physically.
This post addresses ALSC competency V.5 Ensures that all children and their families have full access to library materials, resources, and services as prescribed by the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights and its interpretations.
Emily Mroczek- Bayci is writing this post on behalf of the Public Awareness Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org