Pritzker: ‘I look forward to signing HB 2789 to fight back against book bans’

Chicago City Wire – May 18, 2023

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he will sign a bill preventing book bans or censorship in public libraries.

"While Republicans hide from the truth, we embrace our history," Pritzker said on Twitter. "I look forward to signing HB 2789 to fight back against book bans."

Both the Illinois House and Senate have passed HB 2789, a bill that would withhold state funding from public libraries if they do not forbid any book bans from affecting their shelves, Lifesite News reported. The bill passed in the House March 22 with a vote of 66-39 in favor of it, and then passed with a 39-19 vote in the Senate at the beginning of March. Now it just awaits the governor’s signature.

HB2789 states that it will be the “policy of the State to encourage and protect the freedom of libraries and library systems to acquire materials without external limitation and to be protected against attempts to ban, remove, or otherwise restrict access to books or other materials.” The bill will require all public libraries in the state, including those inside public schools and universities, to formally adopt the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights which prohibits materials from being removed on a partisan or doctrinal disapproval, or draft their own statement committing to curating a diverse and comprehensive collection of materials and prohibiting the practice of banning specific books from their shelves.

If a public library does not comply with these requirements, it shall be considered ineligible for state grants. The ALA’s Bill of Rights prohibits discrimination of library use on the basis of “origin, age, background, or views.” This bill comes amidst a host of parents across the state and country who are asking libraries to hold back titles from their libraries because of what they say is sexually explicit content that is not age appropriate for young students. Libraries and public officials encourage parents to monitor their children’s reading and material choice if they are concerned about the media their child consumes.

The bill originates from Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, who serves as the state librarian. He made a statement for the bill, saying “unfortunately a scourge of censorship is polarizing and disrupting communities throughout our country; it has also threatened the safety of our amazingly dedicated Librarians the likes of which they have never seen before.”

Pritzker has voiced his support for the bill as well, saying that students across the state should “become critical thinkers, exposed to ideas that they disagree with. Here in Illinois, we don’t hide from the truth, we embrace it.” It is unsure of when Pritzker will sign the bill into law, but he has been promising his support on the bill for months. If signed, it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024.