Undoubtedly many of you have read the news about RSU 56<https://www.pressherald.com/2022/08/10/dixfield-based-school-board-bans-gender-book-from-dirigo-library/> and the censorship of Maia Kobabe's Gender Queer. This is the SIXTH book challenge in Maine so far this year! There were six challenges in 2021, which is more than the total book challenges from 2017-2020 combined. That's huge! For four years the total book bans in Maine = 5, then the past two years have more than doubled that! I'm not a statistics expert but something seems to be shifting.
Please know the MLA Intellectual Freedom Committee sent a letter of support<https://drive.google.com/file/d/1N8JHYeQ8u87B8zbWW6Mb1rnrnBLz-Oqh/view?usp=sharing> to the RSU school board to avoid censorship. This is after the book had been challenged earlier this year, upheld by a special committee, and now ultimately removed after the decision was appealed. RSU 56 had clear and well-crafted policies to avoid this situation. And yet here we are.
MLA and the IF committee is here for anyone facing book challenges and attempts at censorship. We're working with MASL and other organizations to help defend first amendment rights. If you have ideas of ways we can equip you with confidence and tools as another school year approaches, please send to me. We will be sharing some interesting training ideas soon.
A mote of light for me is that we have each other, fellow librarians, to stand up to serve as defenders of information and access. Wynter encouraged us to be empathetic to the people making these final decisions, and I agree. Let's remind ourselves to remain dispassionate and even-keeled in face of these very heated controversies. And roll up our sleeves for some proactive work ahead!
Keep up the good work!
Samantha Duckworth LIBRARIAN
Verrill Dana LLP
One Portland Square
Portland, ME 04101-4054
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