Libraries, the new front-line in the Culture Wars

The election of reactionary individuals to the board of the Niles-Maine Public Library in May gave me chills, back in 2020 I had been thinking about how the fragmented nature of the US Library system made it vulnerable to subversion by groups with specific views, but 2020 being 2020 gave a lot more to focus on than hypothetical threats to the public library system and I shelved that thought. The thoughts about the relative fragility of the US library system germinated in an article I wrote for the UK Library magazine The Youth Library Review in 2019 comparing the UK and US Public Library systems.

2021 has not been much better for libraries with wholescale challenges to many books for young readers about gender and sexuality and more that may faintly resemble what many on the right perceive to be Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Challenging Times

The Niles-Maine takeover provides a way forward for other reactionary groups that want to control their local libraries and the recent mega challenges to entire slates of reading materials provides an enhanced template for those who wish to stifle the free flow of information to young readers (and others).

This will happen with Library Boards if we do not take notice: “Anti-CRT” school board candidates are winning

Resources to push back against challenges and how to defend your libraries

Richard Price is Associate Professor of Political Science at Weber State University created the Adventures in Censorship website that tracks challenges to books in school and public libraries:

Angie Manfredi’s article on the freedom to read and what you can do to support your local libraries from encroaching censorship:

How to Fight Book Bans and Challenges: an Anti-Censorship Tool Kit

Become a Library Trustee:

Why you should sit on your library board:

Local library advocacy group celebrates rejection of harmful library policy proposals.

CRT Toolkit

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