Free Speech and Unconstitutional Censorship in Libraries

Our Constitutional right to the freedom of speech through libraries is crucial in maintaining a healthy democracy in the United States.

Libraries play a vital role in protecting the First Amendment by providing unrestricted access to knowledge and information. The recent threats to librarians and their defense of free speech are concerning, with educators across the nation being forced to justify the use of books that object to racism and homophobia in their classrooms in response to politically motivated complaints. As a voter, you have the power to influence and protect these essential rights for citizens across the country. By pledging to vote for public, school, and academic libraries, you can help protect free speech.

The current crisis of book banning and censorship in schools and public libraries is centered on books written by or about BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals. Book challenges are primarily about limiting the rights of these already marginalized groups and reducing their voices. This type of politically motivated censorship prevents all members of the public from being represented within library collections. Voting for libraries means protecting the rights of all groups of people and their voices within library collections. It also means that every individual in the United States has the right to free speech and against censorship.

Many extremists are using the pretense of protecting children to ban books from libraries, thereby restricting access to content and materials. This form of censorship prevents true democracy because it limits the type of knowledge that the public can access. In public libraries, this has taken the form of internal changes to collection development standards and private calls for librarians to either move books to the adult section or remove them entirely from the collection. Similarly, school libraries face censorship issues daily. Around the country, books are being pulled from school libraries and being labeled as sexually explicit. Rather than being examined as a whole for their literary value, the books are taken apart line by line and viewed out of context. This form of censorship threatens our democracy by devaluing freedom of speech. Voting is essential to preventing this type of censorship because school and library boards often make these decisions locally and are reinforced by state laws.

The Libraries2024 campaign aims to help inform voters about political library issues so that they can be empowered to engage civically to protect libraries against attacks.

Public Libraries

Public libraries are the great equalizers in American society. They offer all members of the public access to a wide range of books, other materials, resources, and programming that are essential in supporting community growth and development. Public libraries have recently seen a rise in legislation attempting to criminalize public librarians for wanting to protect free speech and prevent the censorship of their materials. Library boards, under the directive of a select few patrons, attempt to ban books by mandating library staff members to remove them from circulation. Since the local government funds many libraries nationwide, it is essential to vote for local officials who support library services and want to prevent this type of censorship within your community. Learn more about how public libraries defend your right to the First Amendment.

School Libraries

School libraries have experienced funding cuts and threats surrounding collection development and library material policies that aim to ban books in order to control the books that students are able to access. This issue threatens the vitality of public education by unconstitutionally restricting certain viewpoints. Changes to protect free access to library books and materials happen at the local level. You can vote for your school board members to ensure that your freedoms are protected against censorship. Learn more about how school libraries protect the freedom of speech.

Academic Libraries

Academic libraries were founded on the principles of the freedom to read, freedom to access information, and accessibility to books and materials from diverse perspectives. Censorship and book bans harm students by creating an environment that discourages learning. While academic libraries do not face as many book bans as public or school libraries, they are still in danger of being hurt by the censorship movements that are taking place across the U.S. Voting for pro-library candidates will ensure that harmful restrictions are not placed on higher education institutes within your state. Both private and public universities should not be hindered by restrictions that censor their faculty members and students. Learn more about the importance of academic libraries in higher education.

Take the pledge to vote for libraries. Join the Libraries2024 Campaign to protect the First Amendment and prevent censorship across libraries in America.