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Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed into law a bill that will make Illinois the first state in the nation to outlaw book bans.
House Bill 2789 declares it to be the policy of Illinois 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.”
“Book bans are about censorship, marginalizing people, marginalizing ideas and facts. Regimes ban books, not democracies,” Pritzker said.
Illinois public libraries that restrict or ban materials because of “partisan or doctrinal” disapproval will be ineligible for state funding as of Jan. 1, 2024, when the new law goes into effect, according to ABC News.
“We are not saying that every book should be in every single library,” said Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, who is also the state librarian and was the driving force behind the legislation. “What this law does is it says, let’s trust our experience and education of our librarians to decide what books should be in circulation.”
Banned books reached a 20 year high in 2021
The American Library Association (ALA) in March announced that attempts to censor books in schools and public libraries reached a 20-year high in 2022 — twice as many as 2021, the previous record.
According to the ALA, there were 67 attempts to ban books in Illinois in 2022, up from 41 attempts in 2021.
“Illinois legislation responds to disturbing circumstances of censorship and an environment of suspicion,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and executive director of the Freedom to Read Foundation.
ABC News reports to be eligible for state funds, Illinois public libraries must adopt the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which holds that “materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation,” or subscribe to a similar pledge.