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Book Bans and Censorship: The New American Epidemic

*photo credit: Nashville Scene

It’s nearly impossible to read the news without seeing mention of some kind of effort to ban or pull books from library collections or classrooms. If it seems like a concerted effort, that would not be a coincidence. While there are individuals who have taken matters into their own hands on a local level, there are also groups around the country who have made it their mission to remove a list or lists of books they deem offensive.

And while these stories may or may not yet be local to you, the chances of it soon becoming your challenge are very real. With that we encourage you to develop policies and procedures to defend your collection and your colleagues.

Prevention vs reaction is the reality of our times.

So how do you mitigate the challenges before they happen?
• Update or establish your collection development policy.
• Know your school’s policies and procedures on book selections.
• Go to your book vendor’s website for any information they may provide.
• When purchasing your books be aware of the suggested audience categories provided by the publisher and the wholesaler. Be sure they align with the standards and requirements of your institution.
Establish a Challenge Defense Policy that defines who is eligible to submit a challenge. Are they residents of your community? Are they members of your library or school? How many titles are allowed per challenge?

There are several organizations who are standing by to assist you with your challenges.
The American Library Association
American Book Sellers Association
American Civil Liberties Union
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
National Coalition Against Censorship
PEN America

Join us at New York Comic Con for the conversation!

On Thursday, October 12 RWP will lead a panel called Book Bans and Censorship: A New American Epidemic. The panel is set for 3:15 pm in room 406.1 Our conversation will be about the realities and groups behind the bans and what is needed to meet these challenges head on. We will be posting the video for public distribution as soon as we can get edits and sound mixing completed.

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