The governor of Illinois signed into law HB 2789, a bill that bans book bans, making Illinois the first state in the country to counter legislative efforts nationwide of mounting Republican-backed pressure to limit access to books that explore issues they consider controversial, such as race, inequality, gender, sex and LGBTQ+ topics.
Once the new law goes into effect on Jan. 1, public libraries must adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights or a similar statement to be eligible for state funding. The ALA’s Bill of Rights holds that reading materials “should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval” or “excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.”
Library Bill of Rights:
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.
VII. All people, regardless of origin, age, background, or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use. Libraries should advocate for, educate about, and protect people’s privacy, safeguarding all library use data, including personally identifiable information.
From The Week:
The measure comes as other states across the country pass laws empowering a record number of book bans. In March, the ALA said that the 1,269 petitions to censor library books in 2022 marked the highest number of attempted book bans in the association’s 20-year history. Most of the affected books were primarily written by or about people of color or the LGBTQ+ community.
While Illinois may be the first state to pass a law prohibiting book bans, it may not be the only one for long. A group of Democratic senators from New Jersey proposed a similar bill to defund any public library or school that bans or restricts books. President Biden also recently announced plans to appoint a federal coordinator to address the rise in book bans.