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05/24/2024 01:28 PM
Pennsylvania State Senate
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: July 10, 2023 11:14 AM
From: Senator Amanda M. Cappelletti
To: All Senate members
Subject: Prohibiting Book Bans in Pennsylvania's Libraries
The American Library Association documented the highest number of attempted book bans last year since it began compiling data more than 20 years ago. Pennsylvania ranks among the worst states in book banning efforts, where there were 56 attempts to ban 302 unique titles. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black, Indigenous, and people of color.  

As libraries and librarians nationwide face unprecedented censorship of books and resources, Illinois recently became the first state to prevent publicly-funded institutions from banning books and other materials. Pennsylvania should follow closely behind.  

The idea of banning books is a direct contradiction to First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press, integral elements of democracy. Americans have a right to explore and engage with differing perspectives to form their own views. Public libraries are places where young people should be able to learn about themselves and people who are different from them, not denied access to the diverse perspectives that books and art offer us all.  

Like the Illinois law, my legislation will require Pennsylvania’s State Librarian and our local libraries to: 1) adopt the American Library Association's Library Bill of Rights, which states that materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval; and to 2) develop a written statement that prohibits the local library from banning books or other materials. Libraries that do not comply will be denied state funding.

This is not a partisan issue. Polling conducted by bipartisan research firms in 2022 showed that voters across the political spectrum oppose book bans and have confidence in libraries to make good decisions about their collections.

Please join me in ensuring Pennsylvania upholds our cherished Constitutional protections against government censorship in our libraries. 

Introduced as SB926