Neo-Nazis and Proud Boys are targeting libraries, as legislators and conservative lobby groups are trying to remove books from shelves and change how library board members are appointed
Last month, I went to a library in more or less the exact middle of America, and everyone was there – kids, elderly people, students of all ethnicities and ability levels – quietly doing their own thing, together.
A librarian interviewed me in an elegant amphitheater in front of Kansas City residents. We spoke about immigration, politics and the climate crisis and managed to laugh a lot too. Some audience members challenged my views, and we talked it out right there. We had a frank and fun conversation in a public space, free to all, and streamed live for people who couldn’t make it to the library that day. I only later thought about how rare that is – and how profound.
Campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have turned their attention to tech companies such as OverDrive and Epic, which operated for years without drawing much controversy.
E-reader apps that became lifelines for students during the pandemic are now in the crossfire of a culture war raging over books in schools and public libraries.
In several states, apps and the companies that run them have been targeted by conservative parents who have pushed schools and public libraries to shut down their digital programs, which let users download and read books on their smartphones, tablets and laptops.
Some parents want the apps to be banned for their children or even for all students. And they’re getting results.
A school superintendent in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, pulled his system’s e-reader offline for a week last month, cutting access for 40,000 students, after a parent searched the Epic library available on her kindergartner’s laptop and found books supporting LGBTQ pride.