Take One Step This Week Toward Combating Censorship: This Week’s Book Censorship News, February 25, 2022

Kelly Jensen


Kelly is a former librarian and a long-time blogger at STACKED. She's the editor/author of (DON'T) CALL ME CRAZY: 33 VOICES START THE CONVERSATION ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH and the editor/author of HERE WE ARE: FEMINISM FOR THE REAL WORLD. Her next book, BODY TALK, will publish in Fall 2020. Follow her on Instagram @heykellyjensen.

If you’re fired up about book challenges and want to do one actionable thing about it that requires little more than a few minutes of time, this one’s for you.

One of the several possible ways to fight book challenges is being tuned into your local school and library boards. School boards tend to be elected offices, while public library boards can either be elected or can be appointed. In the case of elections, you, as a voter and citizen of your community, can not only choose to endorse a candidate who cares about intellectual freedom, but you can run for those positions yourself. If your board utilizes the appointment system, you can submit an application for open positions.

While running for and sitting in those positions can take a lot of time, voting for those positions is part of civic duty.

Here’s your action step this week: look up your local school and public library board. Who is sitting on it? How did they get there — was it election or appointment? How long is their term? When do elections for open positions happen? It’s likely a board seat on either may be up for spring elections in April or May this year, and/or there may be open positions during the fall election season in October or November.

If you find there are open positions coming up for election, research the candidates. What language do they use to talk about how they see themselves in the role? By now, you’re likely conscious of some critical words that define those seeking to censor educators and the materials they use or have available in schools and libraries (look for words such as “parental rights” or “oversight,” among others).

It might feel like a small step, but many small steps taken add up. The more information you know about your own community, the more you’re able to be an active participant in it. The death of local news has been a tremendous detriment to so many towns, and where information used to be readily shared through those sources has fallen instead to partisan-aligned social media outlets. We’re all much more responsible for our own civic education in the wake of it.

The only way the war against intellectual freedom is going to be won is by being armed with information that allows you to understand the responsibility and the power in using your voice at the poll, in the community, and at or on these local boards.

A favor to ask before diving into the roundup for the week. Once you’ve done this work and looked up your school and library boards and the policies around them, can you share that information? This handy form is anonymous but will help compile a resource for people across the country to be better informed. Bonus: you can use it as your personal template for this research — send yourself a copy of the form for your own records.

Book Censorship News: February 25, 2022

Further Reading

Want to do something for the authors and books being challenged that doesn’t cost money and doesn’t require you to leave your couch? This set of recommended actions is great, and it acknowledges the inherent privilege in the idea buying books is the solution.