Source: Washington Post
This year, Banned Books Week arrives amid a tumultuous time for communities, schools, and libraries fending off the ever-increasing right-wing campaign to remove books from shelves.
In recent years, Republicans have invested in creating political action committees, mobilizing right-wing groups, endorsing controversial candidates and packing school boards with extremists across the country.
“Expanding beyond their well-organized attempts to sanitize school libraries, groups with a political agenda have turned their crusade to public libraries, the very embodiment of the First Amendment in our society,” Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, told The Hill. “This places politics over the well-being and education of young people and everyone’s right to access and use the public library.”
According to a report from PEN America, at least 50 groups across the country are leading the charge to remove books from libraries. Of the 300 chapters that PEN America tracked, 73 percent were formed after 2020.
In addition, data from PEN America found that overwhelmingly, book banners target stories by and about people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.
“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials. Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs,” Caldwell-Stone stated.
In just the 2021-2022 school year alone, a majority of all school book challenges came from only 11 people, according to The Washington Post.
For North Carolina, members from far-right groups like Moms for Liberty, FACTS Task Force 2.0, Tide Turners NC and Pavement Education Project, among others, are connected to many book bans around the state.
Last month, the Republican-leaning New Hanover County school board decided to temporarily remove a book from the district due to one parent’s complaint.