The American Library Association (ALA) has recorded that nearly half of the book challenges within this year’s first eight months occurred in tax-payer funded public libraries, leaping from 16% in the same timeframe the previous year. The notable detail here is that many of the books under fire are by or about individuals of color or members of the LGBTQ+ community.
It began in school libraries, where concerned parents argued that some books – particularly those featuring LGBTQ+ characters or themes – weren’t suitable for children to be reading. Some activists cited their religious views to express opposition to certain written content, but now the war on books is moving into Public Libraries prohibiting even adults from getting the titles they want.
Florida and Texas are at the forefront of this war on ideas. Florida has removed more than 1,400 books.
In Florida, teachers and school administrators are no longer allowed to use, recommend, or have in the school’s possession any books or printed material not first screened and approved by a ‘media specialist’ per a broader education bill (HB 1467) which requires school librarians, media specialists and others involved in the selection of school library materials to receive special training to weed out any books that may contain anything “inappropriate” or that is not free of “unsolicited theories that may lead to student indoctrination.”
In Missouri, two Republican State Senators there used flamethrowers to burn piles of boxes metaphorically containing books they claimed were ‘offensive.’
Legal battles are ensuing in various states, including Arkansas and Florida, opposing the newly instituted laws affecting book availability.
Opponents of the bans say that ample access to all types of reading material is a bedrock principle of a free and fair society. Banning books flies in the face of free speech and free expression, two key components of American life.
About the writer: Matthew Woodruff is an Independent Journalist and Author who believes in Freely Accessible, Honest and Open Reporting.