I was recently shocked to learn that the Bloomington Public Library is experiencing a censorship challenge towards certain books in its collection, especially graphic novels for children and young adults. The original complaint was about an exhibit that featured graphic novels for young people and adults side by side, with some locals concerned that children might accidentally pick up one of those adult books.
I haven’t read all of the disputed books in Bloomington, but I have read many of the most disputed books of this decade, according to the American Library Association’s list. And these are all important books. They have LGBTQ + representation, anti-racism conversations, proper sex education, and more. Every fall I celebrate Forbidden Book Week, but I never expected to see a real-time challenge unfold in my city.
I can almost see the value of increasing the separation between children’s and adult books on display, but children will always find the information they are looking for, and limiting books will only increase curiosity. More importantly, for some, this separation of adult and children’s books is not really what it is. It’s about banning children from reading about LGBTQ + issues, sex, violence and other realities in the world.
The McLean County Republic Party posted concerns on Facebook about the books “illustrating sexual acts… extreme violence… and fantasy as fact”. If you get rid of the books illustrating sex, violence, or fantasy, there will be very few books left in the world. And if you start censoring books, where does it end? Who should define this line?
If you want to censor what your children read, so be it, but don’t censor public libraries. Libraries are the cornerstones of a community, providing services far beyond free books. Libraries provide information, representation, access and the freedom to read.
Morgan Rondinelli, Normal