Be Prepared: Censorship Resources

“If every individual with an agenda had his/her way, the shelves in the school library would be close to empty.”
― Judy Blume

Every year, there are dozens of challenges to literary works. If you are a student, educator, parent, author or librarian battling a censorship controversy, below are some resources for guidance:

Update: Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes offers help to those fighting against censorship. He released an important memo that states: “The removal of books from a school library can constitute an official suppression of ideas, in violation of the First Amendment.”  

The EveryLibrary Institute posted the memo here: Utah AG Publishes Clear Guidance Protecting School Libraries From Censorship

Librarians: Establish Clear Policies

Libraries should have written and approved policies for collection development, circulation, and challenges. These policies can guide material selection as well as address any challenges that may arise. Helpful resources:

Be prepared. As an educator, it is important to align your book curation with the learning standards and curriculum. Show the importance of the books and how materials were selected to fulfill clear educational goals. Make note of a book’s reviews, awards, and recommendations by educational experts, and be ready to allow parents to opt their student out of reading a particular book. Helpful resources:

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Establish clear policies. To avoid controversy, school boards need to be prepared to face challenges from parents and others in the community by creating a sound policy to handle such controversies. Helpful resources:

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Visit and support your library. Check out books and request new books. It can be as easy as that! Show your appreciating. Write a letter telling your library you value their commitment to attaining material that supports the diversity of your community and world. Helpful resources:

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More About Listed Resources:

The American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom (ALA-OIF)

Established in 1967, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the Association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials. The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC)

NCAC has been battling censors and book-banning advocates for over 40 years. They are here to support you can be reached at ncac@ncac.org. NCAC works with teachers, educators, writers, artists, and others around the country dealing with censorship debates in their own communities. It educates its members and the public at large about the dangers of censorship, and it advances policies that promote and protect freedom of expression and democratic values. NCAC’s Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP), a key initiative of its Youth Free Expression Program, is a unique advocacy project that works at the grassroots level to protect students’ right to read in schools, libraries, and bookstores across the country.

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

The NCTE supports intellectual freedom at all educational levels. An 80,000-member organization devoted to improving the teaching and learning of English and faced with challenges to teaching materials or methods, the NCTE offers support, advice and resources to teachers and schools faced with challenges to teaching materials or methods. The NCTE has developed a Statement on Censorship and Professional Guidelines in recognition that English and language arts teachers face daily decisions about teaching materials and methods.

The Freedom to Read Foundation

The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is a non-profit legal and educational organization affiliated with the American Library Association.  FTRF protects and defends the First Amendment to the Constitution and supports the right of libraries to collect – and individuals to access – information.

The School Library Journal Censorship Tips Hotline

This hotline allows library professionals to report censorship attempts anonymously. The hotline form asks for name and email (both optional); the library/school district, and state; and a comments field: “Tell us who is behind the objection—parents, school board members, or other parties—and how the district/library responded. Was challenge policy followed? Let us know anything else relevant.”

We Need Diverse Books™

We Need Diverse Books is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

Red Wine & Blue

Red Wine & Blue Education Funds in Coalition with PEN America, Race Forward & Others is mobilizing hundreds of thousands against attempts to ban books in public schools & their libraries.

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