Another Win Against Book Bans in Washoe County, Nevada!

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Washoe County, Nevada, has emerged as a battleground in the national fight over freedom of expression in libraries. A relatively small yet highly vocal faction launched an effort aimed at removing books they consider objectionable from the public — specifically, those containing LGBTQ+ content, themes of racial diversity, and other topics. This move to ban books was met with a robust response from the community, and EveryLibrary was there to help with our “Fight for the First'' initiative

We’re glad to report that after months of organizing and supporting the “Let Washoe Read'' group, a dedicated band of free speech and civil rights activists, we’ve seen an important win this week: the books have been returned to the shelves!


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The Freedom to Read Nevada group, and their use of the "Stand Together Against Censorship in Washoe County'' petition to identify and activate supporters, were remarkably effective. Through local organizing and support from EveryLibrary, they drew in over 3,000 individuals to sign the petition and take action against censorship. This campaign showed a widespread commitment to the principle of reading freedom and the pursuit of diverse viewpoints.

Tiffany T., a local Fight for the First supporter, said, “Local libraries were pivotal during my youth. The move towards book bans threatens to erode our collective understanding and I am concerned for future generations. Knowledge is indeed power.” 

The Washoe County Library Board of Trustees recently upheld a decision to reject book challenges from a group called Wake Up Washoe County, which is aligned with far-right ideologies. This decision came after a contentious six-hour meeting where the group had requested the reshuffling or restriction of children's access to certain books they deemed objectionable, despite many already being located in the Adult Section. Library staff had thoroughly reviewed 14 challenges filed by Wake Up Washoe County in December 2023, affirming that each book was correctly categorized.

Staff noted that federal case law prohibited reshelving based on community objections, as it equates to censorship and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Despite tensions and disruptions during the meeting, the trustees, with the exception of Board Chair Gianna Jacks, voted to keep the books on the shelves in their current locations without restrictions on access. 

Freedom to Read Nevada co-chair Ilya Arbatman emphasized the indispensable support afforded by the Fight for the First initiative:

"This initiative has been transformative for our cause. Beyond the tools and financial support—which have been critical—it's the sense of solidarity that has been most impactful. Fight for the First connects us with a wide network of library advocates, all dedicated to ensuring open access to information. It's heartening to know that we're part of a larger movement, with EveryLibrary standing ready to offer expertise and resources that amplify our local endeavors."

Washoe County is one of numerous wins for the right to read in public libraries and schools that we are proud to have supported. With 90 petitions on Fight for the First, we have seen over 65,000 people act locally for their rights. It is evident that our efforts are producing results. Each success, regardless of scale, is a potent message against censorship. Freedom to Read Nevada’s story is a triumph of community, perseverance, and the unyielding belief in the freedom of expression. It shows that with dedication, a clear vision, and community support, it is possible to overcome attempts at censorship and uphold the principles of freedom and access to information. 

You can help continue the fight against book bans with a monthly donation of just $1, $3, or $5!