The Fight Against Book Bans: Perspectives from the Field

Libraries Unlimited. Jun. 2023. 256p. ed. by Oltmann, Shannon M., ed. pap. $60.95. ISBN 9781440879760.
A helpful book for libraries to add to their toolkit as they face an unprecedented number of book challenges. It starts with the early history of book bans, followed by several chapters that focus on the more recent headlines of 2020 and 2021. Each chapter provides specific examples of what different states across the U.S. are dealing with, giving equal measure to school libraries and public libraries. The volume provides history and context on some of the conservative organizations that are targeting libraries and the methods they are using in order to gain traction with potential book bans. Most of the chapters speak about advocacy and provide practical feedback on what was done or what can be done when challenges are made. Especially helpful are “Part Three: External Support for Librarians” and “Part Four: How to Face Challenges and Bans.” At times, the book is disjointed, as each chapter is made up of individual and independently conducted research papers on the topic. Still, this doesn’t diminish from it being a strong collection of relevant contributions on the subject from the period of history where book bans initially exploded across the country. While some readers may want the most up-to-date data, this compilation provides an important snapshot that shows the divide from when challenges became a part of everyday life for some libraries. The skills, tips, and tricks that it provides are invaluable, especially for librarians in Texas and Florida.
VERDICT An important overview of book bans that provides crucial information every librarian now needs to know. Recommended, especially in large municipal systems.

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