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U.S. libraries news round up – June 2023

The Information Literacy Group’s North American rep, Elizabeth Brookbank, has provided a round up of news from across the pond.

Library Journal announced this year’s Movers & Shakers – described as library professionals engaging in the biggest issues facing libraries today head on, including “challenges to intellectual freedom, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, food and resource insecurity, and a systemic lack of opportunity for those who are underserved.” These recognitions are international in scope, with librarians from 16 different countries, including 35 awardees in Canada, but the vast majority of those recognized are in the U.S. (as can be seen on this handy map). The LJ pages about each recognized librarian are free to access, for the time being, and provide an interesting and informative (although certainly not comprehensive) look at what librarians are up to (mainly) in the U.S.

Right-wing censorship efforts continue at full force in the U.S., especially targeting books by and about LGBTQIA+ people and people of color. The most recent examples of these efforts include a coordinated campaign targeting Pride Month (June in the US) displays at libraries and the challenging of noted poet Amanda Gorman’s book in Florida (she is best known for reading one of her poems at President Biden’s inauguration). Many of the organized campaigns that have led to book challenges in recent years are associated with a “parents’ rights” group called Moms for Liberty, which this week was labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Such censorship efforts have also prompted a (much smaller) backlash on the left in the form of a growing movement to have the Bible banned in schools. “In one Utah community, the Bible has been permanently pulled from elementary school shelves, while other states have been pressured to review whether the Bible violates any of their newly passed restrictions on educational materials.” In response to the increase in censorship efforts targeting the LGBTQIA+ community specifically (and in honor of Pride Month) the White House just last week announced a series of actions that will be taken at the federal level to protect LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination, including the appointment of a new coordinator in the Department of Education “to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students.”

April saw the Every Book Its Reader campaign – a Wikipedia editing extravaganza which also coincided with World Book Day on April 23rd, the goal of which was to increase the amount of quality information about books on Wikipedia. One of my neighboring university libraries, Oregon State University, participated, led by OSU librarian Laurie Bridges who will be presenting a poster on the workshop at the ALA Annual conference in Chicago in a couple weeks. Did your library participate in this campaign? If so, feel free to share your experiences in the comments, and if you have another reading or article to share on any of the above topics, please post that in the comments as well.

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