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Another Major Library Steps Up To Provide Books Across the Country as Thousands Face Censorship, Closure

Locked cell in front of a bookshelf. (Image: Alyssa Shotwell.)

The battle for reading continues. It is still hard to imagine that in 2023, almost 2024, we are still arguing over whether people should read things about diverse characters and topics. I don’t know why anyone is surprised by Conservatives’ agenda, but the San Diego Public Library is fighting back.

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There are groups nationally pushing restrictions on learning, and one of the loudest and most annoying is Moms for Liberty. Recently, their local group in Oklahoma went after the Scholastic Book Fair. Rifles for everyone: good! Books about gender: bad! Got it. The ignorant people club released a press statement where they accused Scholastic of “indoctrinating youth with radical viewpoints and sexual ideologies from a very young age at an increasingly rapid rate.”

I feel like a broken record when I bring up messaging, but it is so important. The pattern of using words like “indoctrination” only serves to brainwash people. I am sure these same people wouldn’t consider pushing the Bible down people’s throats indoctrination.

Some have been trying to combat this wave of idiocy, like the San Diego Public Library participating in the “Books Unbanned” program that was started by the Brooklyn Public Library. The initiative provides access to books that have been banned in over 20 states. As someone who lives in a purple state that is gerrymandered and dominated by conservative lawmakers, I am happy when people come to our rescue!

The San Diego Library is providing library cards to people who do not live in the city. KPBS mentioned that they were working on providing access to over 400 books, one of which is a favorite of mine, “Stamped from the Beginning.” Stamped is a tremendous book, and I honestly think everyone should read it. It should be mandatory. But it isn’t. That still isn’t enough for people like Moms for Liberty. Stamped gives deep insight into anti-racist/anti-black ideas in America, and we know that conservatives do not want people educated on these topics. But should they control our lives? No.

This is a point being made by proponents of the “Books Unbanned” movement. And I agree. This small and fanatical group, and others like it, shouldn’t determine what everyone else can read if they so choose. The San Diego Public Library is offering access to people mostly in the Midwest and the South where people have really been intent on pushing restrictions to education and literacy resources.

Misty Jones, who is the director of the library, says that they have reached and helped about 470 people. She talks about going “outside of our bubble” and I agree wholeheartedly. Even within states, we can have bubbles. I am from a big city in North Carolina, and I can often be consumed by people who are purely liberal. But NC is very diverse and there’s a great divide between urban and rural areas. We can’t just live in our little circles and not reach out to anyone else. More places should join the lead of the San Diego Library and reach out and help spread something as fundamental to our society and democracy as reading. 

(featured image: Alyssa Shotwell)

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