It has been almost one year to the day since my library had a book challenge after a special story time. The theme was Princess and Knight Story Time. Three books were read, one of which was, “Prince and Knight” by Daniel Haack. A prince falls in love with the knight who helps him defeat a dragon to keep his kingdom safe. The story time went off without a hitch, but soon afterward, the library began receiving phone calls about how this book was inappropriate for children. The challenge had been put forth to the library board. Over 100 people attended the board meeting in regard to the book challenge. Nearly 30 people got up to speak to the board, and an overwhelming majority were in support of the book being read during the story time. Support flooded the library, which allowed us to breathe a little easier knowing that…
2022 was a record-breaking year for attempts to censor library books. Thanks to organized efforts, many complaints focused on books for youth. While parents have the right to monitor what their own children read, these banning efforts infringe upon the rights of other families. How can we as children’s librarian professionals combat this trend?
As we see more and more books being challenged in school and public libraries (indeed, ALA reported a record number of censorship demands in 2022), library staff have to consciously make the decision to not self-censor purchases out of a desire to avoid conflict. As early as 2018, librarian publications began to speak out against the harm self-censorship has on the communities in which librarians serve.
As 2022 draws to a close, it’s interesting—and important—to consider the impact of last month’s elections on issues of intellectual freedom, particularly on the local level. While this will vary widely from community to community, a good place to stay up to date on these across the country, and other current issues, is ALA’s Intellectual Freedom News, which is updated weekly here. It offers news organized into categories: Some perspectives on intellectual freedom issues being affected by recent elections are presented in yesterday’s New York Times article on the current “Surge in Book Bans.” If you experience a challenge at your organization, please remember to share information about it with the Office of Intellectual Freedom. As ALA says “Reporting censorship and challenges to materials, resources, and services is vital to developing the best resources to defend library resources and to protect against challenges before they happen.” It takes all of…
In 2021, Amanda Jones was named School Library Journal School Librarian of the Year. A little more than one year later and Ms. Jones is now embroiled in legal actions due to online harassment related to her work in promoting the right to read and diverse library collections. The lead article in the November/December 2022 issue of American Libraries, “When It Happens To You,” is about what to do when you get caught in the middle of a book challenge. It’s all well and good to say “stand up and fight for the right to read”! But that is often easier said than done and, in these divisive times, can be very scary. Read on for some tools we hope will help in this situation.
It’s time to make sure our planning is in place for this year’s Banned Books Week, which begins September 18.
It doesn’t take a librarian to notice the surge in news stories about book challenges in public and school libraries, disputed materials vanishing from shelves and librarians getting fired. The stories are everywhere, but are you ready if this happens to you? Let’s flip a popular catchphrase to show that “sometimes the best offense is a good defense.”
Over the past year challenges to books in school and public libraries have garnered a lot of media attention. Most of these challenges are books that feature characters that identify as LGBTQ+ and that address racism in its many forms. Article III of the Library Bill of Rights states: Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.