Illinois bill preventing library book bans passes Senate

WCIA – May 3, 2023

Illinois is one step closer to ensuring none of the libraries in the state ban any books.

The bill would make any municipal library who bans material based on partisan or doctrinal disproval ineligible to receiving any state-funded grants. Libraries have to show they follow the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights or issue a statement they will prohibit banning controversial library materials.

Secretary of State files legislation to prevent book banning in Illinois libraries

The bill is in contrast to states like Florida, Texas, Indiana and Missouri who have passed laws that restricted books based on discussion of race and LGBTQ identities. The ALA found in 2022 more than 1,200 public libraries and schools across the U.S. faced banned book challenges, with objections to more than 2,500 books.

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“We feel we have to protect their bill of rights at this particular point in time because of the attack that has been made on libraries across the nation,” Sen. Laura Murphy (D-Des Plaines) the Senate sponsor of the bill, said.

Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias serves as the State Librarian. He initiated the bill.

“This landmark legislation is a triumph for our democracy, a win for First Amendment rights, and, most importantly, a great victory for future generations to come,” Giannoulias said. “This bill protects our freedom of speech and equally important, our freedom to think critically.”

The bill passed the Senate 39-19.

Republicans largely opposed the bill, with some saying while they don’t want libraries to ban books, it’s an overreach of governmental power.

“This is just a layer of bureaucracy and a threat to these local districts, a bureaucratic threat of taking away their funding that they desperately need,” Sen. Jil Tracy (R-Quincy) said.

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The bill now heads to governor’s desk. Governor J.B. Pritzker has previously said in March he supports the bill. If signed into law, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.