Educating pre-service librarians has me paying even more attention to book challenges. While I’ve been able to inform them of what the challenges, new legislation, and self-censorship look like, I have struggled to know how to prepare them should they ever have to face such a situation. I’ve been looking around and have found resources worth sharing. I have to give particular thanks to Allie Jane Bruce and Megan Schliesman for their help.
Emily Knox, associate professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Information Sciences and author of Book Banning in the 21st Century, will moderate a panel entitled “Banned Books: When Books Are Threatened, Where Do We Turn?” on Tuesday, 29 March at 7:30pm. Panelists will be Ibram X. Kendi (How To Be An Antiracist), Nikole Hannah-Jones (The 1619 Project), and Nic Stone (Dear Martin). Random House is partnering with PEN American to sponsor the event. Register here.
In light of the new ways books are being challenged in the post-truth era, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom is restructuring its support materials for challenges. The materials can be found here. I subscribe to their blog to keep up with intellectual freedom issues and developments. A few days ago, ALA released results of a poll that indicates a majority of voters oppose books bans in libraries. I’m listing the findings here. The media announcement lists the survey’s items and quantifies the results.
- More than seven in 10 voters (71%) oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, with majorities of voters across party lines opposed.
- Large majorities oppose book removals in school libraries after hearing arguments from both sides.
- There is near-universal high regard for librarians and recognition of the important the role that local public libraries and school libraries play in communities.
- Most voters are confident in local public libraries to make good decisions about their collections and think libraries do a good job representing a variety of viewpoints.
- Parents express a high degree of confidence in school libraries’ decisions about their collections and very few think that school librarians ignore parents’ concerns.
- Voters and parents affirm the importance of giving young people access to books and not allowing individual parents to decide what books are available to other people’s children.
Resources particularly for librarians have also been developed by Megan for the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (The same people who just released the 2021 diversity statistics).
- Resources and Statements in Response to Recent Challenges and Public Attacks Against Materials in Libraries and Classrooms https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/intellectual-freedom-2/education-and-advocacy/
- Intellectual FreedomResources https://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/intellectual-freedom-2/intellectual-freedom-resources/
Megan has developed an understanding of challenges over time and offers support for today’s practitioners.
It’s really important to get these materials in the hands of all public and school librarians and that’s hard to do. Not all librarians have the privilege of belonging to a professional library association, whether at the state or national level. Consequently, many feel unsupported in their day-to-day work. They don’t know that ALA promises to work with them, regardless of affiliation, should they face a challenge and many don’t know how to be proactive. So please, share this information with your school and public libraries. Don’t assume they know that help is available.
K.C. Boyd does! KC is someone I met way back in the day when bloggers ruled the social networking world. Then, as a school librarian she was working to promote urban fiction because that’s what her students wanted to read. K.C. has worked to rebuilding libraries and library programs so that her students would be informationally literate. School library journal just recognized K.C. by naming her the School Librarian of the Year. Congratulations, K.C.!!
Be well and do good!