The Fight Against Book Bans

This week’s review offers guidance on how to approach book challenges and censorship attempts from librarians who’ve dealt with them firsthand.

The Fight Against Book Bans: Perspectives from the Field

ed. by Shannon M. Oltmann Bloomsbury, 2023
256p bibl index, 9781440879760 $60.95, 9781440879777

The Fight Against Book Bans book cover.

For this collection Oltmann (School of Information Science, Univ. of Kentucky; author of Practicing Intellectual Freedom in Libraries, CH, Apr’20, 57-2466) gathered librarians who have been through the culture wars and have first-hand experience with attempts to censor library collections, primarily in public and school libraries in the southern and midwestern US. As the subtitle implies, this book does not  provide simply abstract arguments defending the freedom to read. Just about every contributor discusses American Library Association policies and relevant laws in the context of specific challenges/cases. Some organizations behind attempts to ban books will be familiar to some (Moms for Liberty, No Left Turn in Education) as will the states in which challenges have occurred (e.g., Florida, Texas). But readers may be surprised to learn of attempts to ban books in New Jersey and Maine. This book provides helpful tips for dealing with allies/opponents during challenge attempts—including parents, trustees, and politicians—and it stresses the need for well-written, thoughtfully considered collection, selection, and reconsideration policies. All librarians will benefit from reading this book and following the guidance within.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty, professionals, and general readers.
: J. A. Drobnicki, York College, CUNY
Subject: Reference – Library & Information Sciences
Choice Issue: Feb 2024

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