Endorsing HB299, the Delaware Libraries for All Act

Censorship is on the rise across the county, and Delaware Libraries want to act before book bans take hold there. With so many censorship efforts targeting LGBTQ and BIPOC titles, book bans are a form of discrimination as well as an attack on the First Amendment.

The Delaware Council of Libraries has proposed a new legislation, the Delaware Libraries for All Act (HB299), that would strengthen the right to read by extending civil rights protections to all readers through public accommodation laws. The Delaware Libraries for All Act would require that local library policies affirm and support the principles of state public accommodation laws and the First Amendment. Public accommodations laws are civil rights laws. They require public places, local governments, and employers not to discriminate against people based on race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. Anti-discrimination is fundamentally about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Anti-discrimination should be at the heart of library services. With HB299, Delaware wants to make it the law of the land. 

Send a message to your state Representative and Senator to Pass HB299

The Delaware Libraries for All Act would ensure that LGBTQ+ and BIPOC stories, titles, authors - and readers - are protected within the library. This approach would strengthen the freedom of speech and the right to read by ensuring that library collection development, programs, services, and facilities policies are written without fear or favor. 

Delaware is at the forefront of a movement that champions free speech by enhancing civil rights protections for racial, sexual, and religious minorities. HB299 reflects the state's collective values and commitment to democracy. It aims to safeguard every reader against censorship, discrimination, and bias by explicitly recognizing libraries in this context, ensuring that every Delawarean has fair access to a world of information and ideas.

The significance of this bill extends beyond how libraries manage their collections and choose what programs to offer. It touches on the foundations of our Constitutional freedoms. In a time when book bans and restrictive policies are on the rise nationwide, targeting subjects that range from LGBTQ+ issues to racial and social justice, HB299 stands as a bulwark against such regressive forces. It ensures that public libraries remain spaces where intellectual freedom is celebrated and protected, where the rights of all to explore the full spectrum of human experience and knowledge are upheld. 

The Delaware Libraries for All Act is more than a legislative proposal; it's a commitment to the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusivity in public libraries. By enshrining these values into library law, it reinforces the rights of every individual, including those of racial, religious, and sexual minorities whose narratives are often marginalized, to access a wide range of viewpoints and stories. This bill is not just about public libraries; it is about protecting the foundations of our Constitutional freedoms. We encourage all Delawareans to support this vital legislation and help make our voices heard to ensure HB299 becomes law. Let's stand together to defend intellectual freedom, promote equality, and create inclusive spaces for all.