Intellectual Freedom and the freedom to read children’s and young adult literature is a hot button topic and has been a hot button topic for the last few years since the pandemic. Books, specifically books with LGBTQI+ characters and books centered around racial issues, are being used for political clout and to whip up the ire of conservatives throughout the United States. Groups are systematically organizing and fueling the fire to remove books from library shelves across the country–both public and private school libraries. Missouri schools are no exception. On August 28, 2022 Missouri Senate Bill SB 775 was signed into law causing school librarians across the state of Missouri to pull graphic novels from their shelves in a panic. School district leaders required their librarians to pull any graphic novels that met the restrictions of the law in hopes that they could circumvent a possible lawsuit. Some district leaders…
When doing outreach for grade school children my favorite books to book talk often come from a genre that is frequently challenged: Horror! It’s a delight to discuss scary stories because these conversations reveal how children are their own best selectors and even censors when they are given the ability to choose what they read.
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.
I started my #ALAAC2022 experience with the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table’s (#GNCRT) Friday Forum which focused on Comics Challenges. Taking place from 11-3, there were three unique panels comprised of creators, publishers, and librarians. The first panel (which, full disclosure, I also moderated) was about challenges among award-winning books. The second panel focused on equity, diversity, and inclusion in comics. The forum ended with a panel about concrete tips on how to address comics challenges.
Censorship is a hot topic right now and a genuine concern for libraries everywhere. To my knowledge, my community hasn’t yet had any formal challenges. Still, I like to be prepared. So, I nervously and dutifully tuned into “Prepare Your Library for Today’s Censorship Battles.” As if the topic itself weren’t enough, the presenters were ALA staffers: Deborah Caldwell-Stone and Kristin Pekoll from ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) and Megan Murray Cusick of ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office.
As we eagerly await the announcements for the youth book/media awards on January 24, we should also be prepared with tools to address potential challenges. Recently, the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom reported that in the last three months, they have contacted over 300 times regarding censorship issues. Contrast that to 2019, when there were 337 reports in total. Here then, is a reminder of some resources and a preview of some new resources to support the work we do
There is a dramatic surge in materials challenges at school and public libraries across the United States. What can librarians do to protect intellectual freedom? As a local activist turned elected local official, I have a few thoughts on how you can defend against book banning in the community where you live. If challenges occur at a library where you work, you must be unbiased and confer with the leadership of your institution. It’s all about organizing: mobilizing large numbers of people.
The Assistant Director for ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Kristin Pekoll, offered an “on-demand” session during the ALA Conference about 2020 trends and numbers as well as discussing how the information is obtained. It was a quick but fascinating look at censorship in our libraries.