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Illinois Becomes First State to Ban Book Bans

Illinois Becomes First State to Ban Book Bans

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and banned books

The law will deny state funding to public libraries that ban or restrict books because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval.”

Illinois has become the first state to enact what’s being called a ban on book bans.

House Bill 2789, signed into law Monday by Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, will deny state funding to public libraries that ban materials because of “partisan or doctrinal disapproval” of the content.

“We are not saying that every book should be in every single library,” said Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, according to the Associated Press. “What this law does is it says, let’s trust our experience and education of our librarians to decide what books should be in circulation.” Giannoulias, who also holds the post of state librarian, led the effort to pass the legislation.

The law requires public libraries and library systems to adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which says that “materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation,” or craft a similar policy of their own in order to remain eligible to receive state funding. The measure passed along party lines, with Democrats in favor, Republicans against, and goes into effect January 1.

The legislation comes as attempts to ban or restrict access to certain books are spreading around the nation. The books most frequently targeted are those by authors of color or LGBTQ+ writers, or that deal with racial or LGBTQ+ themes.

2022 saw the highest number of challenged books in school and public libraries since the American Library Association started documenting challenges 20 years ago, 2,571 titles, up from 1,858 in 2021. There were 1,269 challenges, most of them involving multiple books, compared with 769 in 2021.

“While it’s true that kids need guidance, and that some ideas can be objectionable, trying to weaponize local government to force one-size-fits-all standards onto the entire community for reasons of bigotry or as a substitute for active and involved parenting is wrong,” the bill’s sponsor, Democratic Rep. Anna Stava-Murray, said at the signing ceremony at a children’s library in Chicago, the AP reports.

“Book bans are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts. Regimes banned books, not democracies,” Pritzker said during the ceremony, according to CNN. “We refuse to let a vitriolic strain of white nationalism coursing through our country determine whose histories are told, not in Illinois.”

Pictured: Gov. J.B. Pritzker and frequently banned/challenged books

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