It's Very Real - Recent Attempts to Prosecute Librarians Over Books on the Shelves
Not once, in all of human history, have the people banning books and arresting librarians been on the same side as freedom and liberty. Click to tweet
Yet, Lapeer County Prosecutor John Miller says he may file criminal charges against employees or officials of the Lapeer District Library if an LGBTQ-themed graphic novel isn’t removed from the shelves.
Sign the petition against the prosecution of librarians in the United States.
Then, launch your own local petition against book bans in your community at fightforthefirst.org
That's why EveryLibrary is supporting a number of local campaigners as they fight against legislation that would criminalize libraries, schools, and even museums over the content of books and art.
Around the country, we are seeing members of state legislatures saying that bills that would remove the defense from prosecution under obscenity laws won't really criminalize educators and librarians. They say removing the "defense from prosecution" exemption is only a political statement about obscenity.
That's either naive or disingenuous.
There are too many recent examples of police being called out to libraries or schools across the country for us to not take this for what it is: a real threat to criminalize librarians and access to books.
Some recent troubling examples include:
- In May 2023, a middle school teacher in Illinois was placed on administrative leave after police were called about 'This Book Is Gay'
- In January 2023, a teacher in Michigan was nearly hauled into court over a book in their classroom.
- Lancaster County, PA., prosecutor has declined to charge librarians over obscene materials because the books do not fit the legal definitions (January 2023)
- In Missouri, the police have repeatedly been called out to schools to arrest teachers and librarians over books.
- In Wyoming last fall, a county prosecutor tried to charge librarians with obscenity crimes.
- Police are showing up to public libraries in South Carolina and Texas.
- Parents groups like this one in Polk County, FL. are going to the police and sheriffs nationwide because they falsely believe that books are obscene.
- The current Attorney General of Louisiana (who is running for Governor) has a "tip line" for concerned citizens to report obscenity in libraries.
To us, the most concerning story is from February 2022. The Oklahoma Attorney General started a review of school library books under obscenity laws. He discovered the long-standing exemption from prosecution and stopped his review. He was encouraged that the legislature took up a new bill that would address parents' concerns about obscenity. In November, HB 3702 (2022) took effect and specifically stripped the educator exemption from prosecution, among other things.
We can't predict what will happen next.
Keep up to date on the bills that would criminalize libraries and education on EveryLibrary's 2023 tracker.
These proposed bills do harm whether or not they become law. They create a climate where librarians and educators are looked at as harming to children or even as criminals. We need to continue to preserve the integrity of schools and public libraries in order to prevent our librarians and educators from being brought up on politically motivated charges over the books in their care.
Your donations go directly towards support local fights against book bans and censorship laws.
EveryLibrary is doing more than just tracking bills or hosting petitions. We are providing direct support to local community members who want to fight against book bans. We are proud to have helped the Wyoming Library Association kill their bills in committee. We helped the local community fight against book bans in Glenn Ridge, and win! In Montana, we've helped MLA build an effective coalition that removed public libraries and museums from their bill, but educators remain in peril. Maine Library Association's opposition coalition is growing and effective. Likewise in Arkansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Indiana, and Mississippi too.
The call to action is clear.
We need people like you to join the campaign against book bans. You can get started at fightforthefirst.org where you can launch you own petitions, events, and campaigns against banning books in your community.