NY Times Magazine: “How Book Bans Turned a Texas Town Upside Down”
From The NY Times:
Over the last year, campaigns to ban books have erupted throughout school districts and local libraries across the country. The American Library Association, which tracks challenges to library books or resources since 1990, previously documented roughly 300 to 350 complaints annually, with most challenges targeting a single title each. But in 2021 alone, the association noted 729 complaints against 1,597 different books. It has been “an unprecedented increase in the number of challenges,” says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, who directs the A.L.A.’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. (A regular target of challenges, and a frequent object of political attacks, has been “The 1619 Project,” a 2019 special issue of this magazine and a subsequent best-selling book examining the legacy of slavery in American life.)
Strategies on how to lodge complaints against books are traded on Facebook and shared among branch chapters of parental rights groups. One of the most influential of these groups is the Florida-based Moms for Liberty. Since its inception in January 2021, it has grown to include more than 200 chapters nationwide, with more than 100,000 members. In some towns, members have compiled their own book lists with dozens of titles.
In other towns, librarians have lost their jobs. At the Erie Community Library in Colorado where she had been employed for more than two years, the librarian Brooky Parks held meetings for a “Read Woke” book club, where teenagers would discuss books like “This Is My America,” by Kim Johnson; “Watch Us Rise,” by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan; and “American Street,” by Ibi Zoboi. The High Plains Library District challenged the program, instituting restrictions and stating that such groups “should not be intended to persuade participants to a particular point of view” or be “intentionally inflammatory,” according to its new policy. The district fired Parks, who filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claiming she was terminated for speaking up against censorship. “They’re writing the policy,” Parks told me. “It basically allows them the discretion to cancel whatever they want.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.