Landmark anti-book banning bill passes Illinois Senate

Published: May. 3, 2023 at 4:16 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) - Illinois is one step closer to having first-in-the-nation legislation on book bans.

Illinois State Librarian and Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias says the landmark legislation sets a nationwide precedent in promoting the sharing of library resources.

An amendment to the Illinois Library System Act, House Bill 2789 both encourages and protects the freedom of public libraries to add to their collections without outside limitation.

The bill would also allow Giannoulias’ office to authorize grant funding only to libraries that adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which protects against attempts to ban, remove, or restrict access to books or other materials.

“The concept of banning books contradicts the very essence of what our country stands for,” said Secretary Giannoulias. “It also defies what education is all about: teaching our children to think for themselves.”

Nationally, the number of attempts to ban books is on the rise while there were 67 attempts to ban books in Illinois last year alone, according to the Chicago-based American Library Association (ALA).

Illinois law, as it stands, does not contain specific language about book banning or the eligibility for state grants if a library bans items from its collection. As libraries and librarians face censorship of books and resources, including in Illinois, the bill states that it is Illinois’ policy to encourage the improvement of free public libraries and to encourage cooperation among all types of libraries

The bill was introduced in February and passed the Illinois House in March. It now heads to the governor’s desk. If signed into law, the bill would take effect on January 1, 2024.