ALA submits comments opposing book banning for House Oversight Committee hearing
For Immediate Release
Assistant Director, Communications
Public Policy and Advocacy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on April 7, 2022, “Free Speech Under Attack: Book Bans and Academic Censorship.” On behalf of the American Library Association (ALA), ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone, J.D, submitted a letter to the subcommittee chair and ranking member. The letter notes, in part:
Every day, more than 360,000 library professionals in every community across America work to promote literacy, provide access to information, and introduce children to the joy of reading. Rooted in the promises of the First Amendment and the Founders’ vision of individual liberties, the freedom to read is central to libraries’ professional standards. The Constitution prohibits public bodies, such as libraries, from discriminating on the basis of viewpoint or censoring materials based on their message. Libraries uphold these Constitutional principles by enabling readers to choose materials representing a variety of ideas, opinions, and views.
ALA is alarmed by an increasing trend of censorship campaigns directed at libraries around the country. These dangerous proposals would strip readers of their freedom to choose, and could make it impossible for libraries and librarians to fulfill our legal and professional responsibilities. Outrageously, some of these proposals even threaten library professionals with criminal prosecution and imprisonment simply for providing widely available books.
In response to these threats, this week ALA is launching “Unite Against Book Bans,” a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship.
During the hearing, subcommittee Chair Jamie Raskin (D-MD) highlighted data from ALA’s State of America's Libraries Report 2022 on the unprecedented number of attempts to ban books in libraries last year.
More information ALA’s “Unite Against Book Bans” initiative is available at uniteagainstbookbans.org.