Join us to stop book banning.
April 14, 2023
The Authors Guild advocates for the rights of professional writers to create, publish, and earn a sustainable living as fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, translators, and journalists. Book banning, whether challenged by the right or the left, interferes with those rights, not only by suppressing free speech and freedom of expression but by making it harder for authors to sell copies of their work.
According to the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, the number of books challenged in schools and public libraries in 2022 hit a record high. A record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship in 2022, a 32 percent increase over the 1,858 unique titles targeted in 2021. This is in part because, while books were once challenged on an individual basis, there are now lists of books to be challenged compiled by national groups. 40 percent of the overall books challenged in 2022 were in cases involving 100 books or more.
Books are also being banned as a result of state laws. According to PEN America, there are currently nearly 100 pending bills that would restrict teaching critical race theory or limit how K-12 teachers can discuss racism and sexism. A number of these bills are modeled after Florida’s H.B. 1557, commonly known as the Don’t Say Gay Act. Four of them apply to private schools or colleges. Legislatures are even attempting to criminally penalize librarians for providing certain books to minors.
Both individual libraries and entire library systems are being put at risk as these bans escalate. In 2022, a Michigan town defunded its library for refusing to remove certain LGBTQ books. In Llano County, Texas, a number of books were accused of being “pornographic” and removed from the public library system; when seven Llano County residents sued, the court stated that a number of these books also dealt with “critical race theory” and racial themes. In response to the court’s order to restore the removed books to the library shelves while the litigation was pending, Llano County commissioners held a meeting to discuss closing the library. And in Missouri, the state House of Representatives recently voted to defund all of the state’s public libraries, apparently in reaction to litigation filed on behalf of the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association. The lawsuit seeks to declare unconstitutional a state bill that has resulted in more than 300 books, many of which include LGBTQ characters or racial justice themes, being banned from school libraries. No matter one’s political beliefs, we should be able to come together to support free speech and a healthy public library system.
Regardless of the reasons behind the huge rise in the number of school boards banning books, however, the National Coalition Against Censorship, of which the Authors Guild is a proud member, has asked for our help in combating this alarming trend. That’s why we are calling on all interested members to help us launch a national letter writing campaign by undertaking one or more of the following actions:
Feel free to write something in your own words or you can simply download one of the sample templates and sign your name to it.
Find your local school board members and superintendent
Find your state representative(s)
We are pleased to partner with the American Library Association and be on the Steering Committee of #UniteAgainstBookBans, a national grassroots campaign to engage the public in the fight against censorship. This non-partisan campaign leverages the reach of national organizations representing librarians; educators; parents; authors; publishers and distributors; champions for civil liberties, civil rights, and equality; and more.
Visit uniteagainstbookbans.org to learn how you can join the fight. Tag @AuthorsGuild on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and use the hashtag #UniteAgainstBookBans to let us know when you’ve taken action!
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