Sadly, it was not surprising in late August when USA Today ran a headline calling librarians the “perfect target” for those who would ban books from schools. Librarians are often the purchasers of materials and the people to suggest and connect students with books of interest. Of course, they—we—would be under attack from those who would limit access to information of which censors do not approve.
This New York Times article from July was equally disturbing, detailing how (mostly school) librarians have been called out by name, described as “grooming” children, and how many have had to leave their positions to maintain their integrity. Most chilling was this paragraph:
“In Cabot, Ark., the local police department investigated a woman who said that if she had ‘any mental issues,’ staff at a local school library would be ‘plowed down’ with a gun, according to a police report. The police determined that the incident, which was reported earlier in the Arkansas Times and took place at a meeting of Moms For Liberty — a group that has pushed for book bans around the country — was not made in context of a threat and there was no need to file charges.”
Louisiana Middle School Librarian Amanda Jones is fighting back, suing two men for defamation after an attack on LGBTQ materials in her school library. The GoFundMe campaign to cover her legal fees has surpassed its goal by almost $25,000.
Public libraries are not escaping this agenda either. An Iowa library closed temporarily when full-time staff resigned due to censorship issues. Author Nora Roberts stepped in with a large donation to save a Michigan library defunded over LGBTQ materials.
What can the profession do to counter this? First, attend school or library board meetings to speak up for free access of materials and anti-censorship. Follow news reports on the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog. Ensure your library’s collection development policy and item reconsideration policy are strong and up to date.
And continue to read, recommend, and display diverse books of all kinds.
Today’s blog post was written by Maria Trivisonno, Family Engagement Specialist at Cuyahoga County Public Library in suburban Cleveland, Ohio on behalf of the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group and IV. Knowledge, Curation, & Management of Materials, VI. Administrative and Management Skills, and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.