Illinois bill would cut funding for libraries that ban books

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A bill that would cut funding for libraries that ban books has gone to committee in the Illinois House of Representatives.

HB2789 would amend the state’s Library System Act to require libraries or libraries systems that receive state money to develop a written policy prohibiting the practice of banning books within the public library.

The bill is in response to attempts across the country, including Illinois, to remove books that some consider objectionable. Books on race or LGBTQ issues have become a flashpoint in public and school libraries, often by parents claiming the books are inappropriate for children. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were 681 attempts to ban or restrict library resources, and 1,651 unique titles were targeted. Most attempts targeted multiple titles. Librarians have been under increasing pressure and threats nationwide.

Neighboring states like Missouri and Indiana have passed or are considering bills that would remove protections and require librarians to monitor books on “sensitive” topics.

HB2789 was drafted by the Illinois Secretary of State’s office, which oversees state libraries and archives.

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said the bill is meant to protect access to books and take some of the pressure brought against librarians by groups like the Proud Boys.

He said even in Illinois, there have been attempts to ban books by authors like Toni Morrison, novels like The Kite Runner and classics like To Kill A Mockingbird.

“Let me be clear, these efforts to ban reading materials have nothing to do with books,” Giannoulias said. “They are about restricting the freedom of ideas that certain individuals disagree with and believe that no one else should think or have access to.”

The bill is being sponsored by sponsored by State Reps. Anne Stava-Murray (D–Downers Grove) and Carol Ammons (D–Champaign) and State Sen. Laura Murphy (D-Elk Grove Village).

The Illinois Library Association, the Association of Illinois School Library Educators, Illinois Federation of Teachers, and NAACP-Springfield have all declared support for the bill.