Illinois’ new anti-book ban legislation is an initiative of Secretary of State and State Librarian Alexi Giannoulias, who was sworn into office as the state’s 38th Secretary of State in January 2023.
Secretary Giannoulias drafted the law amid coordinated efforts nationwide to ban books from library shelves and measures by extremist groups – including the far-right nationalist group, the Proud Boys – to target libraries, harass librarians, and divide communities in Illinois. The bill is intended to protect the freedom of speech by fighting against book censorship and support public and school libraries by withholding state grants from libraries that remove books.
The concept of banning books contradicts the very essence of what our country stands for. It also defies what education is all about: teaching our nation’s children to think for themselves. When books are banned, everyone is at risk from the harm that ignorance brings. Secretary Giannoulias’ first-in-the-nation legislation establishes a clear path, opposite and away from the dangerous trend of banning and censoring books. It aims to unify communities and seeks to restore a right that many Americans may have grown to take for granted: the freedom to think for themselves.
This landmark legislation is inspired by Secretary Giannoulias’ childhood memories of visiting his local library in Chicago and being taught by librarians how to research information and navigate the vast resources available in the library, find books, and truly love learning. It is also inspired by his service on the Chicago Public Library’s Board of Directors, where he saw first-hand how indispensable libraries are to communities and how librarians offer individual children attention and inspiration to unlock their imaginations and potential.
As State Librarian, Secretary Giannoulias is a staunch supporter of libraries and librarians, who have found themselves on the frontlines of culture wars. He is also dedicated to improving the public’s access to the vital services libraries provide and ensuring libraries have the resources they need to continue providing the tools and knowledge that open doors for learning and opportunity. Public Act 103-0100, which was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on June 12, 2023, is a triumph for democracy, a win for First Amendment rights, and a great victory for generations to come.
Public Act 103-0100 was drafted by Secretary Alexi Giannoulias and sponsored by State Representative Anne Stava-Murray and State Senator Laura Murphy through the Illinois General Assembly. This first-in-the-nation legislation became law on June 12, 2023, and becomes effective January 1, 2024.
Under the law, Illinois libraries and library systems will have the freedom to acquire materials without external limitation and be protected from attempts to ban, remove, or restrict access to books and other resources procured by the library. The law states that Illinois libraries would only be eligible for state-funded grants if:
Before the passage of this legislation, there was no language in Illinois law related to book banning or eligibility for state grants if a library bans items from its collection.
If you have been impacted by a book ban or an attempt to ban books in your community and share your story with us or want to express your support for banning book bans, please submit a brief narrative using our contact form.