The American Library Association says it has provided legal guidance and support to a number of libraries impacted by the “dramatic uptick” of attempts to remove books concerning LGBTQ issues and people of color.
Since June 1, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has tracked 155 incidents across the country and has provided support and consultation in 120 of those cases, the association said.
“We’re seeing an unprecedented volume of challenges in the fall of 2021,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “In my twenty years with ALA, I can’t recall a time when we had multiple challenges coming in on a daily basis.”
In a statement, the group’s executive board said a few organizations have pushed the idea that “the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves” by falsely claiming some books are subversive, immoral and induce people to “to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights.”
“Some of these groups even resort to intimidation and threats to achieve their ends, targeting the safety and livelihoods of library workers, educators, and board members who have dedicated themselves to public service, informing our communities, and educating our youth,” they said in a statement.
The ALA’s leadership said the group is condemning those acts of censorship and intimidation and will continue “defending the constitutional rights of all individuals of all ages to use the resources and services of libraries.”
The group’s statement comes after numerous schools in Texas, Florida and several other states have received complaints involving certain books. The trend emerged from the critical race theory debate and the panic over how history, race and queer themes are being taught to children. In Texas, Gov. Gregg Abbott has called on the state’s school boards to remove books he described as “pornography” after at least two state lawmakers asked officials to investigate books in schools.