During the Summer and Fall of 2022, threats directed to public and school libraries and library workers escalated, including the forced temporary closure of five public library systems due to bomb and shooting threats.
On September 27, the executive board of the American Library Association (ALA) transmitted a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray expressing concerns about the threats directed to public and school libraries and library workers. According to library directors and local officials, there is no evidence at this time showing a direct connection between recent threats and opposition to library materials and programs. However, the letter to Director Wray does underscore the increasing threats of violence to libraries and library workers nationwide.
The full letter is printed below:
The safety of library workers and patrons must be a priority. We encourage directors, supervisors and managers to review their institution's safety procedures with all staff so that everyone knows how to respond if they receive a threat or are threatened directly. In addition to notifying local law enforcement, we suggest filing a report with the FBI and reporting incidents to ALA at email@example.com. All reports to ALA will be treated confidentially. We also recommend that institutions review their protocols for responding to the media in the event of such emergencies.
ALA is tracking these incidents on behalf of the profession and libraries as an institution. We need data to be able to accurately describe what is happening, work with actual first responders on addressing threats, urge official action on behalf of libraries, and provide affected libraries with suggestions and helpful resources.