October 25, 2021

Meghan Mangrum: Tennessee librarians speak out against Chattanooga school board member’s attempt to ban books

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In the Tennessean, Meghan Mangrum looks at an attempt to ban books from school libraries.

As a Chattanooga school board debated who has the authority to approve, or remove, books in school libraries this week, Tennessee librarians are speaking out.

Representatives from the Tennessee Association of School Librarians, the Tennessee Library Association and Friends of the Tennessee Libraries are calling out recent censorship attempts by Hamilton County school board Rhonda Thurman.

Thurman, a long-time board member, expressed concerns in an op-ed earlier this month over the use of curse words and references to sex and violence depicted in library books found in Hamilton County schools.

But Tennessee librarians argue students’ “freedom to read and unfettered access to information” is protected by their First Amendment rights.

“Every book is not for every reader but every child should have access to books they may want to read. School librarians strive to know learners and assist them in finding books that fit their needs and interests. Ready access to a wide variety of reading materials increases the chances that learners will become readers and choose to read,” read a statement from the groups released Thursday.

“A parent/guardian has the right to determine what’s best for their child and only their child.  Therefore, the reconsideration processes already in place should be strictly followed.

“…We oppose censorship within school libraries on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and contrary to the professional ethics of librarianship, and challenge and removal processes are already in place at the local school district level.”

Read the full article here.

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