American Library Association urges librarians to ‘report’ individuals and groups challenging inappropriate material for children

Libraries receiving complaints about inappropriate books are being pushed by the American Library Association (ALA) to “report” the book challengers.

“Report Censorship: Defend the…

Libraries receiving complaints about inappropriate books are being pushed by the American Library Association (ALA) to “report” the book challengers.

“Report Censorship: Defend the Public’s Freedoms,” says ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), which urges its libraries to report all challenges to its materials with the promise of confidentiality for the librarians.

“Reporting censorship and challenges to materials, resources, and services is vital to developing the best resources to defend library resources and to protect against challenges before they happen,” ALA’s OIF asserts in its introduction to the reporting form.

The form requests basic information such as the nature of the incident, what materials were challenged, and when and where the challenge was made. 

But it also asks, “Who challenged the material or raised the issue? (If it is known, please indicate if the challenger was acting alone or as part of a group.)” 

OIF asks its informants to provide a “personal email address” in order to “protect the confidentiality of our communications.” 

The information gathered from these reports, says ALA, helps “supply library workers with crucial tools, resources, workshops, and programs” and to compile data for the public’s “awareness.”

According to the organization, the data compiled from the reporting form is used to help create ALA’s list of “most challenged books.” 

The organization has created the narrative that the outrage from parents and grandparents regarding children’s open access to inappropriate sexually explicit material in libraries amounts to censorship and “book banning.” 

Though ALA and its media allies frequently contend books about “race” and “anti-racism” are at the top of the list of “challenged” books, the organization’s own Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022 shows the majority of the challenged books that year featured inappropriate sexual content, and most of them involving explicit LGBTQ sex – though ALA uses the phrase “claimed to be sexually explicit.” 

Among the top five books listed for 2022 were Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe; All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson, Flamer by Mike Curato; and Looking for Alaska by John Green – all with LGBTQ sexual content. 

In fact, ALA’s OIF provides on its web page devoted to “Banned and Challenged Books,” the “top three reasons cited for challenging materials”: 

  1. the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”; 
  1. the material contained “offensive language”; 
  1. the materials [sic] was “unsuited to any age group.” 

In a press statement in September, ALA’s OIF reported that, between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2023, “695 attempts to censor library materials and services and documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles.” 

“The number of unique titles challenged has increased by 20 percent from the same reporting period in 2022, the year in which the highest number of book challenges occurred since ALA began compiling this data more than 20 years ago,” ALA wrote. “Most of the challenges were to books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.” 

ALA’s focus on the LGBTQ agenda is readily apparent in its sponsorship and publication of the annual “Rainbow Book List”: 

It is critical that the Rainbow Book List, and other book lists like it, are made available to assist librarians, educators, caregivers, LGBTQIA+ members, and community allies in selecting quality books for LGBTQIA+ youth. As attacks against LGBTQIA+ books have become upsettingly frequent, it is important to fight for the inclusion of all stories in community libraries and schools.  

As The Lion reported in November, at least eight government bodies ended their affiliations with ALA since Emily Drabinski, a self-described “Marxist lesbian,” took the helm as ALA’s president. 

In January, the Alabama Public Library Service executive board became the latest to vote to leave ALA due to children’s access to inappropriate books. 

ALA is a promoter of drag queen story hours for young children and has conferred its Alex Award, which celebrates “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 though 18,” on the sexually explicit titles Lawn Boy and Gender Queer – both of which made it to ALA’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2022. 

The radical Drabinski, who writes frequently at Truthout, a publication that seeks to “spark action by revealing systemic social, racial, economic and environmental injustice and providing a platform for progressive and transformative ideas,” shared her enthusiasm in May 2023 that “the fight against book bans is mobilizing a new generation of student activists.” 

“The rise of organized attempts to censor school curricula and materials available in school libraries is proving to be a fertile training ground for a new generation of student activists,” Drabinski wrote. “Facing the removal of books about LGBTQ+ and BIPOC experiences, students are demanding the right to read in schools across the country.”  

A web page at the ALA website titled “About Banned and Challenged Books” addresses “Who Challenges Books?” and cites its infographic page of Challenges by Initiator, Institution, Type, and Year

“Throughout history, more and different kinds of people and groups of all persuasions than you might first suppose, who, for all sorts of reasons, have attempted—and continue to attempt—to suppress anything that conflicts with or anyone who disagrees with their own beliefs,” ALA claims, adding, “parents challenge materials more often than any other group.” 

In July, a group of Republican senators called for an investigation into ALA’s alleged discrimination against Christian children’s book publisher Brave Books. 

The senators noted ALA provided guidance at its Library 2023 Worldwide Virtual Conference about ways to block religious publishers, such as Brave Books, from holding events at public libraries. 

“ALA claims Brave Books seeks to ‘censor LGBTQIA materials or disparage or silence LGBTQIA library users and exploit the open nature of the library to advance their agenda,’” a press statement from Sen. Kevin Cramer’s, R-North Dakota, office noted. 

“To the contrary, the ALA is advancing a political agenda, not Brave Books,” the senators wrote. “As a recipient of federal funds, the ALA is prohibited from using taxpayer dollars to violate the First Amendment.”