American Library Association President Is Fighting Censorship and Book Bans

American Library Association President Is Fighting Censorship and Book Bans

Elected president of the American Library Association (ALA) last year, Emily Drabinski has been fighting to further public access to books and information in spite of a near constant stream of bigoted legislation attempting to censor progressive topics spanning LGBTQ+ love and identities, race, gender, and sex. According to LGBTQ+ Nation, in 2023, more than 4,200 books were targeted by censorship laws in schools and libraries.

“This is a year when libraries and readers and books have been challenged in many ways because of their LGBTQ+ content, and being an openly out lesbian leader of the ALA has meant that I have been a target of some of those attacks as well,” Drabinksi told LGBTQ+ Nation.

At the ALA, Drabinski has mobilized the Office of Intellectual Freedom to document instances of censorship. Another branch of the association, the Unite Against Book Bans campaign has been providing tools and resources for outreach and organizing at local libraries.

Individually, Drabinski has been traveling the country meeting with librarians and library workers. Most recently she has created a task force to work on addressing ongoing issues faced by LGBTQ+ library workers.

Coming down the pike is a state-based peer-to-peer support hotline program from librarians to share experiences. Drabinski shared that after her conversations with librarians who are facing backlash from their communities, she found that many were most comforted by the alternate sense of community they found with librarians experiencing similar things in their workplaces. 

“We’re changing the working conditions of librarians through affirmative legislation, fighting back against book bans, and expanding access to the resources of the association to the broad public of library workers.” 

Drabinski’s home state, Idaho, recently passed legislation requiring school and public libraries to relocate “obscene content” out of the youth section for being “harmful to minors.” The ALA president rejects this saying “that objectionable content is content about me, content about my life, my experience. It’s LGBTQ+ content.” 

Ahead for Drabinski is more work ensuring the American public gets access all sorts of information and history, protecting and supporting LGBTQ+ library workers, and encouraging the public to utilize their libraries as a fruitful resource and safe space for all.

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