Texas Librarians Feeling Under Pressure Dealing with Book Bans

With more than 1,000 books being banned in some 86 school districts in 26 states including 713 in Texas, librarians there say they are feeling pressure and harassment as they try to balance the wishes of their communities with censorship concerns.

According to a recent survey by the writing advocacy organization Pen America, more than 1,500 books were banned nationwide in the past nine months, including the removal of books from school classrooms, school, and public libraries, including challenges from community members and churches.

Although having books challenged and removed from schools is not new, the organization said that the normal procedural safeguards have not been adhered to in 98% of the removals.

This has put the local curator and caretaker of the school or public library in a difficult position, and sometimes open to the wrath of the community.

The Texas Tribune reported Tuesday that some librarians are ostracized by their communities or fired for trying to maintain the delicate balance about having appropriate literature available, and censorship.

Librarian Suzette Baker at the Llano County Public Library’s Kingsland Branch told the news outlet that she was fired for disregarding requests from her boss to “hide” or remove titles, or banning the purchase of new books.

“This change is inevitable, and you are allowing your personal biases, opinions and preferences to unduly influence your actions and judgment,” her dismissal documents stated, according to the report.

Baker told the news outlet that the atmosphere changed at her job as the pressure to withhold titles increased.

“It’s the job I’ve always wanted my entire life,” Baker said. “But then it started getting to be a place where it was hostile.”

Other librarians interviewed by the publication said they have been harassed for their responses to challenges and ban requests.

A librarian in the Keller Independent School District, who spoke with the newspaper anonymously, said that the local Facebook group pages had comments calling the staffer a “groomer,” and “pedophile” for having “pornographic” titles in the library.

“It was heartbreaking for me to see comments from a community that I’ve loved and served for 19 years, directed towards me as a person,” the Keller ISD librarian said.

According to the report, some 30 titles have been challenged in that school library alone since October including The Bible, and Maia Koabe’s “Gender Queer,” with the district removing 10 from the list so far.

While Texas is seeing a number of book challenges and bans, a citizen’s group is filing a lawsuit claiming officials were engaging in censorship in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, NPR reported April 26.

“Though Plaintiffs differ in their ages, professions, and individual religious and political beliefs, they are fiercely united in their love for reading public library books and in their belief that the government cannot dictate which books they can and cannot read,” the lawsuit, filed in Llano County reads.

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