Monday, December 27, 2021

Austin Public Library Statement on Book Banning and Library Censorship

 

The Austin Public Library stands with the entire library community in defense of the freedom to speak and the freedom to read, and opposed to censorship of any library materials. We remain committed to providing the entire Austin community with access to books, ideas, and knowledge, and to fostering a Library for All.

“Freedom to read is a right that must be protected in our schools and public libraries, and we must not give in to the vocal few that want to speak for the many,” stated Austin Public Library Director Roosevelt Weeks.

In October 2021, the Texas Library Association (TLA) noted a “substantial increase in censorship activity” in Texas libraries. In a statement from October 26, the TLA stated:

“The Texas Library Association (TLA) holds that the freedom to read is a human right, protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. TLA believes that individuals have the right to free inquiry and the equally important right to form their own opinions. Freedom in selecting materials is a necessary safeguard to the freedom to read and shall be protected against irresponsible attempts by self-appointed censors to abridge it. Therefore, TLA opposes efforts that restrict the freedom to read through banning, removing, or other forms of restricting access to books or other materials.”

In November 2021, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) reported an “unprecedented volume” in challenges to books in the Fall of 2021. In a joint statement from the ALA’s Executive Board and the Boards of Directors for all of ALA’s eight divisions, the ALA said:

“In recent months, a few organizations have advanced the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves. To this end, they have launched campaigns demanding the censorship of books and resources that mirror the lives of those who are gay, queer, or transgender or that tell the stories of persons who are Black, Indigenous, or persons of color… ALA strongly condemns these acts of censorship and intimidation.”

In the weeks that followed these statements, there have been further efforts to ban or censor books in libraries across the country, including here in Central Texas.

The Austin Public Library stands in agreement with the statements from the ALA and TLA. We also uphold the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights, which holds among other things that library materials should not be removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval, and that libraries should challenge censorship.

The Austin Public Library uses its Materials Selection Policy to develop responsive collections. Through that policy, we are committed to providing easy access to books and information for all ages. The Library also prioritizes a commitment to equity, ensuring that all members of the Austin community have equitable access to library services and programs.

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