‘Right to Read’ legislation aims to prevent book banning in Illinois

25 News Now – March 9, 2023

Illinois libraries that ban books would lose state dollars under a bill being considered in the Democratic-controlled state legislature.

Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, who also serves as the State Librarian, said he’s helped draft “Right to Read” legislation that would prevent his office from distributing grants to libraries that ban books.

The Secretary of State’s office said in the last fiscal year, it awarded to libraries 1,631 grants totaling more than $62 million.

Libraries would also have to show they adhere to the American Library Association’s (ALA) Bill of Rights that say reading materials should not be removed or restricted because of partisan or personal disapproval.

The legislation introduced last month is Illinois House Bill 2789.

Giannoulias, who was elected last November, issued a news release about the legislation and a YouTube video stating his position.

“Unfortunately, a scourge of censorship is polarizing and disrupting communities throughout our country. It is also threatened the safety of our amazingly dedicated librarians, the likes of which they have never seen before,” Giannoulias said in a prepared statement.

These efforts to ban reading materials have nothing to do with books. They are about restricting the freedom of ideas that certain individuals disagree with and believe that no one else should think or having access to,” Giannoulias also said.

Giannoulias’ office cites ALA data showing 67 attempts to ban books in 2022, from 41 the previous year.