Welcome to Check Your Shelf. Not gonna lie…some days at work are better than others, and today was pretty tiring. Combine that with the sheer number of outrageous book banning headlines in this newsletter, and I may or may not have had to pour myself a drink when I came home. (Spoiler — I totally did.) So, just as a heads up, there are a lot of headlines here that will make you believe that we’re living in the worst timeline. Do what you have to do to get through this. (But please don’t drink while you’re at work.)
Libraries & Librarians
Vermont State University is closing its physical libraries and will move to an “all-digital academic library system.”
The British Library is getting an enormous £500m extension.
Ukraine withdraws 19 million Russian and Soviet-era books from libraries.
As libraries turn the page on bookmobiles, something is lost.
Book Adaptations in the News
The Time Traveler’s Wife gets a premiere date for its upcoming musical adaptation in London’s West End.
Banned & Challenged Books
Inside the College Board’s revised African American Studies curriculum.
Spring Branch ISD (TX) has banned and restricted the book, The Black Friend, On Being a Better White Person. The author, Frederick Joseph, said “It seems with the case of Spring Branch, they have not only judged, but they’ve also been jury and executioner as well for something that they’ve not even considered.”
Texas Congressman Chip Roy has introduced a new bill that would block federal funds for schools that “indoctrinate with critical race theory.”
Parents react to the empty classroom and library shelves in Duval County Public Schools (FL).
Students of the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (FL) still want to put on the production of Indecent, even though it was canceled a month earlier, but they’re frightened of hateful attacks and still struggling to find a safe avenue.
The conservative group County Citizens Defending Freedom is challenging 15 books in the Polk County School system (FL), which is preparing to purchase 37,000 for two new media centers.
The Manatee County (FL) school board discussed the book vetting process.
The Louisiana attorney general releases a report on “sexually explicit” content in public libraries.
Nine Westchester (NY) school districts have been placed on the dangerous Turning Point USA’s School Board Watchlist, which they describe as “the only national grassroots initiative dedicated to protecting our children by exposing radical and false ideologies endorsed by school boards and pushed in the classroom. SBWL finds and exposes school board leadership that supports anti-American, radical, hateful, immoral, and racist teachings in their districts, such as Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project, sexual/gender ideology, and more.”
Someone in the Central Bucks (PA) school administration is behind the district’s first book challenge.
A recent Methacton School District (PA) board meeting involved a parent who became so agitated, he had to be escorted out of the meeting by security, yelling “You have daughters! I will make sure you go to jail for giving smut to children. They will pass you around like (unintelligible). You’re all pedophiles!”
The district attorney in Lancaster County (PA) will not be pressing charges against the Hempfield School District after a small group of parents complained about explicit content in an even smaller number of library books.
The Penncrest (PA) School District’s main legal counsel has resigned after the school board voted on two recent policies that would restrict books and set limits on transgender athletes. I’m pretty sure that one of the signs of a sinking ship is when YOUR ATTORNEY RESIGNS.
Okay, this has just crossed into absurdity. The Hollidaysburg Area School Board (PA) has decided that “posters and stickers depicting ‘messages promoting tolerance, kindness, support and inclusion’ that are not explicitly part of approved district curriculum” cannot exceed the size of a standard letter-size piece of paper. Well, thank God that’s been settled.
A Bucks County (PA) school librarian was reportedly ordered to take down multiple posters with an Elie Wiesel quote because it violated the school’s policy on “neutrality.”
A mom who hasn’t bothered to read the entirety of Gender Queer is demanding that the book be removed from Baltimore County Schools (MD).
Conservative parents want Maryland schools to ban two books, and a new school board member is receptive.
A newly introduced bill in the Virginia House would require an extraordinary amount of effort in terms of cataloging new materials and making the information available to parents.
Another newly introduced Virginia bill would require parental advisory labels to be placed on materials in both public and school libraries that contain “sexually explicit content,” as defined by state law.
And yet ANOTHER newly introduced Virginia bill would create a database for controversial school library books.
“A year after crowds turned out for Board of Education meetings to debate what Pitt County Schools [NC] students are assigned to read, few people have shown interest in serving on a committee that hears challenges to books.” Shocker.
A newly proposed South Carolina bill would prohibit schools from teaching about slave owners, including George Washington.
The next round of book review committees are set to meet in Beaufort County, South Carolina.
A federal judge has ruled in favor of Mama Bears of Forsyth (GA), thereby allowing them to continue reading “profane” passages during board meetings.
Willard (MO) school board votes to ban Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and suggests that the governor create a book rating system to restrict access. Not to mention that the parent responsible for the initial book challenge says that they have 23 additional titles they want removed.
Tennessee state representative Susan Lynn sent a letter to the Wilson County school district, which recently elected to move The Perks of Being a Wallflower to the mature reading list. Lynn claims that the district is in violation of state law by not removing the book completely.
The Cardinal school board (OH) cancels the upcoming high school spring musical, citing “vulgarity.”
Parents on Patrol, a far-right group of book ban supporters, hosted a panel at a Pewaukee (WI) hotel about how schools are “sexually grooming” children by teaching them about gender identity and sexual orientation.
Inside the audacious new scheme to erase LGBTQ people from Michigan schools.
Nebraska’s recently proposed Parental Bill of Rights is sparking backlash, despite testimony that “Educators must be reined in from wasting precious school time from indoctrinating students from CRT, CSE or SEL.” Honestly, do these people even bother learning what these acronyms mean?
Major corporations are backing North Dakota House Majority Leader Mike Lefor, who sponsored a recent pro-censorship bill.
Apparently this is real life…this op-ed from the Jamestown Sun (ND) compares LGBTQ+ books to Ted Bundy, saying that that pornography caused Bundy to commit his heinous crimes, and that by providing LGBTQ books in public libraries, we may be financing the creation of more Ted Bundy’s.
The Campbell County Public Library’s board remains wary of rejoining the Wyoming Library Association.
Woodland Park School District (CO) has pulled course material from a high school American history class because they claimed it was “critical race theory.”
The Orem (UT) Public Library director is retiring amidst recent censorship attempts from city leadership.
And the former head of the Orem Library’s children department speaks out about how librarians will not be allowed to put up any posters or book displays in honor of Black History Month.
Orange Unified (CA) suspends its digital library after parents complain about a select number of books.
Public libraries in Dublin will not be removing LGBTQ+ books from the children’s section.
Ibram X. Kendi’s take on why books are banned.
The National Coalition Against Censorship has released a new resource for authors of banned or challenged books.
Books & Authors in the News
Best-selling thriller author Ted Bell has died at 76.
Looking at the backlash against Colleen Hoover.
Thomas F. Monteleone has been banned from the Horror Writers Association over recent racist and transphobic comments on social media.
Not surprisingly, Salman Rushdie will not be doing any promotional events for his new book.
Numbers & Trends
Fascinating romance novel trends in 2023.
The best LGBTQ+ YA and kids’ books of 2022, from ALA’s Rainbow Round Table.
YALSA announces the 2023 Alex Awards.
The 2023 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction longlist has been announced.
Michelle Obama is launching a new podcast on Audible on March 7th.
On the Riot
The best libraries you can get a card for from out-of-state.
What nonfiction do we study from the 1980s, ’90s, and ’00s?
The bookish life of Mads Mikkelsen. (Oh hell yeah!! I love me some Mads Mikkelsen!)
Is the Kindle Unlimited pricing worth it?
Oof. Have you gotten through to the end? Is it the weekend yet? Well, here’s a photo of what I’m currently looking at: Gilbert and Dini pretending like they don’t actually want to be holding paws.
Peace out, folks. I’ll be back on Tuesday.
—Katie McLain Horner, @kt_librarylady on Twitter.