Category Archives: Advocacy

So you want to attend/organize a protest?

Here are some things that you ought to read before participating:

How to Protest Safely: What to Bring, What to Do, and What to Avoid (Wired)

ACLU:

Rights of Protesters

Know Your Rights

Students’ rights: Speech, Walkouts and Other Protests

Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests

ACLU Cut & Fold: Know your Rights

American Friends Service Committee:

Protest Resources

Constitutional Protest Guide (Georgetown Law):

Protests & Public Safety: A Guide for Cities & Citizens

Right to Protest:

Protect your Protest

Human Rights Campaign:

Tips for Protesting Peacefully & Safely

Girl Scout’s Anti-censorship Commendation Censored by Board of Supervisors

Inspired by the Hanover County School Board’s decision to ban 19 books from the libraries in the schools they oversee; on June 2023 Kate Lindley started Free to Read, her project for the Girl Scout Gold Award.

She created a Free to Read app with information on each book, including why it was banned and how to access copies of the books. After the board banned a further 75 books in November of 2023 Kate went a step further and set up book nooks in two local businesses.

Screenshots of the Free to Read app

I think that everyone who has observed the national mania for book-banning that has been emerging over the past few years agrees that it is positively Orwellian; but this is where things start taking a turn for the Kafkaesque. On April 10, the Hanover County supervisors met to approve language honoring the Girl Scouts that had completed their Gold Award projects. During the meeting the supervisor for the Cold Harbor District Michael Herzberg pulled Lindley’s proclamation and submitted a motion for amending it, removing language that identified locations where the books were available as well as any mentions of censorship or banned books.

The Board of Supervisors has bestowed upon me the greatest honor anyone fighting censorship and banning could receive by censoring me and my project ~ Kate Lindley

When the young adults of our society act with more maturity and decorum than the actual adults that are running things, I get a hankering for generational change in leadership. Then I feel guilty for wanting to dump the problems created by my generation and the ones that have come before us onto the next generation that are still growing and learning.

We need to address these issues and let our kids be kids. Looking at them, and the work they are already shouldering to make the world they are on the cusp of inheriting a better place I know that they are going to be alright!

Links for more information

Hanover girl scout creates ‘banned book nook’ after new policy takes 19 books off school shelves: https://www.wric.com/news/local-news/hanover-county/hanover-girl-scout-creates-banned-book-nook-after-new-policy/

Hanover Girl Scout fights censorship with ‘Banned Book Nooks’ https://www.wvtf.org/news/2023-10-12/hanover-girl-scout-fights-censorship-with-banned-book-nooks  

Hanover County students fight the book ban https://www.vpm.org/2024-02-22/hanover-county-students-fight-the-book-ban

Hanover County supervisors censor commendation for Girl Scout who fought censorship https://www.wvtf.org/news/2024-04-11/hanover-county-supervisors-censor-commendation-for-girl-scout-who-fought-censorship

Free to Read app: https://studio.code.org/projects/applab/GTpC1hoILFC2YN0ej-pIhcq3vV-8WlJ8hef1d1sRV-o

Free to Read Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/free_to_read/

Original draft of the proclamation celebrating Kate Lindley: https://hanovercova.portal.civicclerk.com/event/1134/files/attachment/4131

Amended proclamation: https://hanovercova.portal.civicclerk.com/event/1130/files/attachment/4310

Girl Scouts of the USA Gold Award: https://www.girlscouts.org/en/members/for-girl-scouts/badges-journeys-awards/highest-awards/gold-award.html

Free to Read Amazon wish list: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/N2DGIA2OFUGH?ref_=wl_share

National library organisation sounds alarm over ‘fire sale’ of library buildings

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), a national charity which exists to raise standards in library provision has sounded the alarm over a potential ‘fire sale’ of library buildings following the Government announcement of ‘exceptional financial support’ to 19 Councils[1].

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced that 19 councils in England will benefit from an ‘Exceptional Financial Support (EFS)’ framework for the fiscal year 2024-25, totalling around £1.5 billion.

Rather than representing new investment or capital support, the framework allows the Councils involved to use capital receipts from the sale of assets or borrowing to cover their day-to-day costs up to this amount. Additionally, there is further support for capitalisation requests from previous years amounting to £976 million.

Commenting on the announcement, CILIP interim CEO Jo Cornish said,

This ‘exceptional financial support’ announced by Government is in reality nothing of the sort. Instead, central Government is suggesting that cash-strapped Councils should do the equivalent of using their savings (long-term investment budgets) and selling property to cover day-to-day running costs.

This framework creates a material risk that Councils will sell off parts of their property portfolio, including libraries, to address the funding shortfall caused by the withdrawal of central Government grants. We know from our experience supporting library services across the UK, this is a one-way trip – once a library building is sold off, it permanently impairs the life chances and property values of local residents. It’s a one-way deal and very much like using the credit card to pay the mortgage.

We urgently call on central Government to work with Councils to provide long-term sustainable investment to protect local services and halt their decline, including statutory public library provision.

In response to increasing concerns over proposals to reduce or close library services, CILIP has launched the ‘Libraries at Risk Monitor’ – a regularly-updated map of proposed changes to libraries across the UK with an indication of where CILIP and their partner organisation, CILIP in Scotland are intervening to seek better outcomes for local taxpayers (www.cilip.org.uk/libraries-at-risk).


[1] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/exceptional-financial-support-for-local-authorities-for-2024-25

Another Sign of Libraries under Threat: Chuck Tingle & the Texas Library Association

It is a widely-shared belief that Public Libraries are one of the greatest things that society has come up with. For well over a century they have grown and evolved as places that are safe for all segments of society to use and see themselves reflected in the collections and made to feel welcome.

I am a believer in the potential of Public Libraries and a lifer in the service (30 years as student volunteer and library professional this year). However I do not believe that they are an eternally safe and secure space. Over the decades I have seen libraries under threat from those who should be supporting and defending them. I have seen branches crumble and fall, shedding staff like trees dropping leaves in the fall.

A more insidious threat often comes from above and within, the latest sign of this danger popped up in my social media feed last night, with Chuck Tingle announcing that his invitation to speak at the Texas Library Association had been rescinded.

Chuck wrote a post about it on his Patreon that you can read here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/texas-library-to-96183885

As I have been writing this. the TLA have released a (to my mind very unimpressive) statement:

As much as many Public Library workers attempt to live up to the publicly stated ethos and values of the profession, Libraries have always been controlled by local government, through the boards that oversee the rules and regulations that govern how libraries are managed and run, and, if right wing individuals gain control of these boards they can negatively affect the services that libraries offer.

You can read previous articles I have written about this subject here:

It can’t be up to Library Workers alone to make sure that Libraries live up to their potential of being safe and open to all.

A Reading for the Edward Said Libraries with Mosab Abu Toha & Friends

Although not required, you may book a ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-reading-for-the-edward-said-libraries-with-mosab-abu-toha-friends-tickets-780355854367

Gaza’s libraries have been destroyed over the course of the last several months of bombing. The Edward Said Public Libraries, the first English-language libraries in the region, have been at risk for months and require support for their continued existence.

During this virtual event, free to attend and streaming on YouTube, preeminent writers will offer short readings in a show of solidarity with the literary and reading communities of Palestine, and a confirmation of the vital nature of literature and access to written culture.

Libraries & Lemonade

This summer, For The People invites you to join us in defending public libraries by talking with your neighbors. Hand out free lemonade to your community, and spread the word about what makes public libraries so great.

Participating in LIBRARIES & LEMONADE is easy: pick a day, time, and location for a lemonade stand, download and print out copies of the toolkit, and have conversations with your neighbors about public libraries over a cool refreshing cup of lemonade.

Find out more here: https://www.librariesforthepeople.org/lemonade

Period Party

On April 8th, the Lucille H. Bluford branch of the Kansas City Public Library recently held a Period Party – a program designed for teens and tweens to come and learn about menstruation in a safe space, make crafts, and win prizes.

The craft was making pouches out of colorful duct tape to carrying menstrual products!

The Instructables website has a page on how to make duct tape pouches: https://www.instructables.com/Duct-Tape-Pouch/

You can visit the Kansas city Public Library’s Facebook page to see the reaction this program had:

The Canary in the Coalmine

Back before modern technology rendered such practices obsolete, miners used to take canaries down into coal mines with them. The reason they took them down was not so the miners could enjoy the singing of the birds while they worked, there was a darker reason…

Being considerably smaller and lighter than the average miner meant that the canary would be affected faster by the toxic gasses that built up in mine shafts. When the canary stopped singing and fell off its perch in the cage this would usually give miners enough warning to get out before they too, were overcome.

Libraries both Public & School are the canaries in the coalmine of society. Whenever the poisonous ideas of fascist thought bubble up, it is in libraries and schools that we see the early warning signs of what is to come. One of these signs is an uptick in challenges to books by and about people in certain communities usually (but not limited to) People of Color, LGBTQ+ and other minority groups.

Challenges to books in school & public libraries are nothing new, these have been going on for decades. The American Library Association runs annual lists of the most challenged books in US Libraries.

What is happening now goes beyond such standard challenges. I believe that Texas currently leads the nation in the sheer industrial scale of attempted and actual book bans. Matt Krause a Texas lawmaker compiled a list of over 800 books that he feels could make (white) readers feel uncomfortable. The majority of these books focus on sexuality, racism and US history.

To date the largest splash has been made by the banning of the teaching of the Pulitzer-Prize winning graphic novel Maus, created by Art Spiegelman the son of two Holocaust survivors, it details the experiences of his parents before and during WW2. According to the McMinn County School Board, who voted 7-0 to deny teachers the opportunity of teaching the book due to a single panel of nudity and some bad language that (allegedly) made them feel uncomfortable. This has made the 40-year-old graphic novel a cause célèbre in the current discourse around book banning and also the number one selling item on Amazon. While many commentators have celebrated the Streisand Effect that has made this book more well-known than ever before, the fact that students are being denied the opportunity to critically engage with the text while studying the Holocaust is nothing to be happy about.

Other books that have had banning attempts made against them across the US include Maia Kobabe’s memoir Gender Queer, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez – all for celebrating LGBTQ+ & queer themes, making them in the eyes of the adults that wish to control what young people read, unsuitable in some way for a teen audience.

It is not just books about the Holocaust or explorations of young people’s sexuality that are targeted; Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi & Jason Reynolds, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and New Kid by Jerry Craft and other similar texts have all faced accusations of containing critical race theory, being anti-police or just books that upset white readers.

The right-wing coopting of school boards has allowed many boards to blatantly ignore or rewrite policies and procedures that were established to deal with challenges, and instead just pull books from their shelves; in some cases, this has been done to prevent complaints and accusations of criminality or worse. Often the censorship is preemptive, with school library workers just not purchasing materials they know will garner complaints, this is not a criticism, I know from first-hand experience how terrifying accusations of carrying pornography or being a criminal just for having certain books on your library shelves can be; but the effect is just as insidious – it is also harder to identify or push back against, or to even identify such practices when they occur.

It is not only school boards that are at risk of right-wing takeover, more recently it is being recognized that Library Boards are becoming enticing targets of conservative ideologues. The recent take-over of the Niles-Maine District Library Is a damning example of how destructive the influence of a board hostile the very nature of a public library can be!

In Mississippi, the mayor of Ridgeland, Gene McGee is withholding $110,000 of funding from the Madison County Library System, demanded that the system initiate a purge of LGBTQ+ books before his office releases the money. The mayor is alleged to have said that the library can serve whoever they wanted, but that he only serves the great Lord above. Which, if accurate seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding on his part of what the role of civil servants in society actually entails.

On a related note, the Furry subculture, having heard about Mayor McGee’s homophobia, has stepped up and has spent the past week rallying around the Madison County Library successfully helping raise funds for the Library .

Library workers in the Campbell County Public Library of Wyoming have faced legal charges for having books on sexuality, gender identity and LGBTQ+ issues in their teen section although the sheriff’s office declined to investigate them and the Library Board backed the Library and did not direct them to remove the items facing the challenge.

There are thousands of these reactionary fires burning across the US and it is easy to become dispirited as the task of pushing back against and extinguishing them may seem too vast to accomplish.

An effective way to fight against this is to research your local school and library boards to discover where they stand, if their actions align with your views then stand behind and support them when it comes time for local elections. If however they have started down the slippery slope of blatant and unconstitutional bans you can organize friends, family and neighbors and stand for school & library boards and local elections or find someone who is already running and support them! If you are unable to stand for local elections then where possible attend board meetings and make your support for uncensored access to reading materials known to the boards and where possible encourage others to do the same.

If you believe in the public library service and schools then it is important to make your voice heard, because if you don’t – who will?

Coda: I had finished working on this when I saw the news that Greg Locke a Pastor in Tennessee had held a book burning just outside Nashville. Included in the burning event were copies of Harry Potter and Twilight books. It brought to mind the words of the German poet Heinrich Heine: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”

Related links:

How to Fight Book Bans and Censorship: https://bookriot.com/how-to-fight-book-bans-and-challenges/

How to Support Libraries in times of Increased Censorship: https://bookriot.com/support-libraries-against-censorship/

What’s It Like to Be the Target of A Book Banning Effort? School Librarian Martha Hickson Tells Her Story. https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=from-the-breaking-point-to-fighting-anew-school-librarian-martha-hickson-shares-her-story-of-battling-book-banning-censorship

Banned: Books on race and sexuality are disappearing from Texas schools in record numbers https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/texas-books-race-sexuality-schools-rcna13886

‘We’re Preparing For a Long Battle.’ Librarians Grapple With Conservatives’ Latest Efforts to Ban Books https://time.com/6117685/book-bans-school-libraries/

Save Niles Library https://www.nilescoalition.org/savenileslibrary/

Schools are banning my book. But queer kids need queer stories. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/10/29/schools-are-banning-my-book-queer-kids-need-queer-stories/

LGBTQ Books Are Being Banned. Their Authors Are Fighting Back. https://www.thedailybeast.com/lgbtq-books-are-being-banned-their-authors-are-fighting-back

Book bans in schools are catching fire. Black authors say uproar isn’t about students. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/book-bans-schools-are-catching-fire-black-authors-say-uproar-isnt-stud-rcna10228

NCAC Coalition Statement on the Attack on Books in Schools https://ncac.org/news/attack-on-books

The push to ban books in Texas schools spreads to public libraries https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/education/texas-schools-public-libraries/285-fdacc918-48a2-4c94-8ef7-8ae5f8d344b1

Kansas district orders 29 books removed from circulation https://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/kansas-district-orders-29-books-removed-from-circulation

How a Small School District Became a Focal Point in the Battle Over Texas Book Censorship https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/02/01/texas-school-district-book-bans/ GOP Legislators Target Librarians for Prosecution, Fines Under new Bill https://iowastartingline.com/2022/02/04/gop-legislators-target-librarians-for-prosecution-fines-under-new-bill/

Library Books for Palestine

“مطلوب” or “Wanted” is an initiative of the Librarians and Archivists with Palestine (LAP), in partnership with the Tamer Institute.

When you donate the cost of a book and its shipping, they coordinate delivery of the book to the requesting library. Please note that book titles will be purchased as prioritized by the participating libraries.

Palestinian libraries, in addition to limited funding, face unique barriers to access caused by Israeli policies. With this campaign, we hope to raise awareness about these access issues and the context in which Palestinian libraries operate, while at the same time offering material support for the libraries’ collections.

You might notice that the cost of some books on this site is significantly higher than the list price for the title. This is because Palestinian libraries in the West Bank and Gaza cannot simply order a book and expect it to arrive quickly and reliably. Israel’s “enemy state” designation prevents literature from being sent directly to Palestinian libraries and booksellers if it has originated in Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and sometimes other countries. This is a particular problem with Lebanon, a major hub of Arabic-language publishing. As a result, Palestinian libraries often contain more books originally written in English, Swedish, and other languages, than in Arabic.

To find out more information about this initiative or to purchase a book for a Palestinian Library please visit:

https://matloub.librarianswithpalestine.org/

Visit Librarians and Archivists with Palestine to find out about past projects they have run as well as current initiatives (like Matloub) that may be of interest.

A Family Guide to Black History Month

Yoopies UK the childcare platform that earlier this year put together a guide to the Black Lives Matter movement from a British perspective has just released a Family Guide to Black History Month.

Both guides can be downloaded here:

https://yoopies.co.uk/c/press-releases/blacklivesmatter