2021 has seen a dramatic increase in book challenges, book bans, and censorship attempts in school and public libraries. The American Library Association has recorded 155 censorship attempts since June, but that’s only counting libraries that reached out to ALA directly, so the complete number is likely much higher.
This increase has mainly been due to conservative groups organizing protests against “Critical Race Theory” and “pornography” in school libraries, which have challenged books that discuss racism, include LGBTQ characters, or are focused on sex education. One noteworthy incidence was Texas lawmaker Matt Krause’s list of 850 books he wanted removed from school libraries, most of which were LGBTQ YA novels. One school district removed more than 400 books from shelves for “review” after receiving this list, despite book challenge procedures requiring that book stay on shelves until after the review process has finished.
In response to this wave of censorship attempts, the School Library Journal has opened a library censorship tips hotline, which allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. Hopefully, this will give a more complete picture than the ALA numbers and shed light on censorship happening that is not getting covered on the news. The censorship tips hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”
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