EveryLibrary has launched a campaign against proposed measures in several states that could lead to librarians facing criminal charges as a result of their “commitment to free speech and access to library materials.” “Librarians around the US are facing measures that mean that they may soon find themselves under attack for stocking books against racism and about the lives and experiences of LGBT Americans,” claims the political action committee.
Texas state representative, Matt Krause, head of the House General Investigating Committee, has sent a letter to the Texas Education Agency, requiring school librarians to survey their collections for titles deemed potentially dangerous. Krause, a candidate for Texas Attorney General, is asking school librarians to identify which of 850 book titles are currently in their school’s collection, how many copies they have of each title, how much money they spent on the books, and whether they have any other books that mention human sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV or AIDS, sexually explicit images, or illegal sexual behavior.
At this time, it is not clear what steps will be taken with the information collected, but overloaded librarians are questioning Krause’s motives while he is running for election.
In Wyoming, librarians recently faced possible prosecution after angry local residents complained to police that books about sex, LGBTQ issues, and how to have a baby were obscene.
In Indiana, a bill that would punish schools and public libraries for sharing “harmful material” with minors, was withdrawn before its final reading in the Senate by its author, Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville. According to this bill, schools and public libraries would be at risk for Level 6 felonies if parents disagreed with the books on the shelves. In Indiana, a Level 6 felony—the same as possession of child pornography—carries a sentence of six months to two and a half years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
EveryLibrary, a 501c4 political action committee dedicated to building voter support for libraries, has started a petition for individuals to email their state legislators, to affirm their right to choose what they read. The petition can be found on the EveryLibrary website at https://action.everylibrary.org/nationalaccess
“Government should not get to dictate reading material that is available in libraries,” said John Chrastka, executive director of EveryLibrary. “We’re encouraging the people who are alarmed by these recent acts of legislation to sign our petition. Our lawmakers must hear from the voters that they support freedom of speech in libraries.”
“EveryLibrary will continue to stand up for libraries around the US, and continue to fight these regressive policies. When a local conversation about what is in the library collection becomes weaponized by politicians looking to get re-elected, it moves into dangerous territory for our society. Censorship is not—cannot—be the future of American libraries,” added Chrastka. “We must take action now to protect our access to books and the written word. What we do today will impact us and future generations.”