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The Growth of the Book Sanctuary Movement

stacks of library books

Last spring, Mark Adler noticed a dramatic uptick in attempts to ban books at the Paris–Bourbon County Library in Paris, Kentucky, where he is the director. Before that, library staffers fielded the occasional request for a book to be removed from shelves. But by the fall of 2023, they had already received requests to pull 102 titles from the library’s collection.

“Watching as that progressed over the next couple of months and the toll it took on staff, that was hard,” says Adler. “And I remembered why I became a librarian, and I let myself cry. It was just this flood of tears for a few minutes, and then that was replaced by anger and indignation.”

Aware that other libraries were shouldering an increase in attempts to ban books, Adler began researching methods used to protect access to challenged titles. He discovered the “sanctuary” movement, which marks libraries and other institutions as safe spaces for books that have been targeted by activists with the aim of keeping them from readers. With his recommendation the library’s board adopted a resolution in November declaring the library a sanctuary.

Read this entire article over at Poets & Writers.

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