A friend of mine who is on the board of trustees of the Albany Public Library told me about an action taken by the board at their November 8, 2022, meeting. The trustees signed on to the “Unite Against Book Bans” campaign of the American Library Association.
The document – I will email anyone the blank PDF form – begins, “We are organizations representing parents, educators and librarians, students and readers, authors and publishers, community and advocacy organizations, businesses and workers, nonprofits and faith groups, elected officials and civic leaders, and concerned citizens who are united against book bans.”
It shares a lot of cool stuff about reading as a “foundational skill.” “Books are tools for understanding complex issues” and “Individuals should be trusted to make their own decisions about what to read.”
“However, efforts to ban books, especially in schools and libraries, are occurring in unprecedented numbers across the country.” The number of books removed or restricted nearly tripled between 2019 and 2021.
“What is also shocking is the rise in state and local legislation which will make censorship easier, or even allow the criminal prosecution of librarians or teachers for simply doing their jobs– ensuring the public has access to a variety of ideas and perspectives. We fear that the centers of knowledge for families and communities are in jeopardy.”
Around the same time, Cory Doctorow wrote about “the American right-wing’s new focus on killing libraries.” It’s on Medium, and you might not be able to access it unless you’re a member. I’m going to provide some internal links, though. Let’s start with the pull quote. “Libraries are the last place in America where you are valued for your personhood rather than the contents of your wallet. At the library, you are a patron, not a customer.”
Doctorow writes: “Behind the anti-library movement is a demand for extraordinarily invasive government control over parenting.”
Here’s a “fantastic interview with incoming American Library Association president Emily Drabinski and it’s a must-listen masterclass in understanding what libraries mean and why wealthy right-wing media barons would want to destroy them.”
PEN America and, of course, the ALA also have much useful information. PEN America is the source of much of Alan Singer’s article about book bans in Missouri.
If you belong to an organization, I would like you to consider bringing the ALA campaign to the group. I will try to get my church on board since the trustee who brought the topic to my attention is also a church member.
When Kelly linked to the Doctorow article, he wrote, “You want to get me marching in the streets? Trying to kill my library might do it.” As the cliche goes, don’t mourn, organize!