Illinois-based EveryLibrary, a national political action committee for libraries, has issued a report tracking legislative developments involving the freedom to read.
“The 2023 legislative session saw an unprecedented series of state-level legislative measures that have raised concerns among library advocates and professionals,” according to the report, “Unpacking 2023 Legislation of Concern for Libraries and Education.”
“These bills, passed in various states across the country, have introduced restrictive policies and limitations on library databases, particularly within educational settings,” the report notes. “This paper reports on the common characteristics of these bills and sheds light on their potential impact on libraries, particularly school libraries.”
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Through June 17, 2023, the report finds 24 such bills across 14 states that have passed in state legislatures. Two were vetoed, and 22 are in various stages of enactment.
Some laws seek to change the definitions of obscenity and collection development and collection review or challenge policies, says Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly.
“It’s a sobering report, offering a call for a new kind of library advocacy, which involves building political power,” he explains.
“This is going to require, as the EveryLibrary report suggests, a new kind of advocacy work,” Albanese tells me. “The good news is that the publishing community is now in the game.”