The cherished US library system, once an international exemplar, faces a relentless assault from politicians, right-wing activists, and corporate publishers.
These forces are actively undermining the core values of libraries, including promoting equal opportunity, ensuring universal education, and preserving cultural heritage. They stand in opposition to the majority of Americans who strongly support libraries. This hostile minority is turning librarianship into a perilous profession. It is imperative to halt this campaign against libraries.
Amidst the backdrop of conservative parent groups initially opposing mask mandates during the pandemic and subsequently pivoting towards opposing the teaching of “critical race theory,” a new focus has emerged: scrutinizing books, particularly those authored by or about queer and Black individuals. These groups are actively lobbying for the removal of such books from library shelves.
Politicians have jumped on board, establishing legislation to allegedly protect children from brainwashing and predatory behaviour, naming books by name and making it difficult for those in charge of schools and libraries to do their duties. Reports of conditioning, disinformation, and allegedly pornographic items lurking on public institution bookshelves have extremist activists and government officials going to social media, conducting meet-ups, and riling up their bases.
US Library professionals facing stress and harassment-
Libraries in the United States have a robust and distinguished history. They were formed by publishers, legislators, and business leaders who saw the social benefits of libraries and the need of making books available to any individual who desired to read them.
Currently, some libraries have received bomb threats, while others are facing reductions in funding or possible closure due to disagreements about book alterations. Librarians have been attacked, intimidated, and referred to as groomers and predators in certain cases.
The burden has grown intolerable for many librarians. In order to defend themselves from the avalanche of harassment and humiliation procedures, an increasing number of individuals are complaining of restless nights, resigning from their jobs, and choosing to keep their social media profiles private.
The ‘Book Banning’ trend-
While book banning is not a new subject, it has grown increasingly heated and controversial. For over a year, book removals have been expanding across the nation, beginning with the growth of “parents’ rights” groups established during the pandemic to dispute Covid guidelines and, later, what content students had access to in schools.
That movement has escalated as organisations such as Moms for Liberty and Utah Parents United have shared lists of books they consider offensive and campaigned for new legislation and library regulations that make it easier to criticise books.
The American Library Association (ALA) has been targeted for its library collection policies. In recent times, libraries in a few states, including Texas, Montana, and Missouri, have decided to disassociate themselves from the ALA.
Additionally, the ability of libraries to own digital books is becoming increasingly restricted. Numerous books are now accessible to libraries solely in electronic formats, but they are subject to limited and temporary licenses. Consequently, libraries are forced to repeatedly pay for these e-books, resembling the recurring payment model used by streaming platforms like Netflix.