Some States Threaten To Withhold Money to Combat Book Bans

( – First Amendment advocates across the country are fighting book bans. During the 2022-2023 school year, there was a 33% increase in book bans from the year before. They impacted 153 districts in 33 states. Now, some states are threatening to withhold funding from libraries that institute bans.

On January 1, an Illinois law will go into effect that requires all libraries to adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which says, “Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues.” It also prohibits materials from being removed from a library just “because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

The Bill of Rights also said that libraries should serve all of the people in their communities and should not exclude anyone from receiving materials. And that material should not be banned in the library based on the “origin, background, or views” that contributed to its creation. It goes on to say that libraries should be a place that challenges censorship and offers enlightenment.

During the last fiscal year, Illinois provided its library system with approximately $62 million in funding for over 1,400 library grants.

Other states, including Pennsylvania and New York, have introduced similar legislation that would require libraries to agree to the Bill of Rights as well. If an institution refuses, they are at risk of losing their funding, too.

Emily Knox, a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said there is a concern that library boards might be willing to give up their funding. She explained that if the institutions chose to go that route, there isn’t another lever the state could pull to bring a library board into line.

Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois’ secretary of state, said they aren’t interested in telling the library systems what books they have to carry on their shelves, they just want to make sure politics aren’t influencing what books are chosen.

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