In this screenshot from a livestream broadcast by the State of Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a bill, Monday, June 12, 2023, at Harold Washington Library's Thomas Hughes Children's Library in downtown Chicago. The new law will require the state's libraries to uphold a pledge not to ban material because of partisan disapproval, starting on Jan. 1, 2024. If they refuse, they will not receive state funding. Pritzker said the law will make Illinois the first state in the nation to outlaw book bans. (State of Illinois via AP)AP
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On Monday, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill outlawing book bans in the state — the first such law to be enacted concerning book bans in the country. Starting Jan. 1, Illinois public libraries will only receive state funding if they issue an anti-book banning policy or, if they adopt the American Library Association’s (ALA) library bill of rights that prohibits “partisan or doctrinal” book removals.
The Illinois State Librarian and State Library will be tasked with implementing the ALA bill of rights statewide.
“Young people shouldn’t be kept from learning about the realities of the world,” said Pritzker in a statement. “I want them to become critical thinkers, exposed to ideas that they disagree with, proud of what our nation has overcome, and thoughtful about what comes next. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read, the art they see, the history they learn.
Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian, Alexi Giannoulias was one of the driving forces behind the legislation, that was introduced by Democratic state representative Anne Stava-Murray after a school board in her district was subject to pressure to ban certain content from school libraries.
“The books in our libraries should be chosen by librarians, not extremist politicians,” said Stava-Murray. “Other states may choose to embrace prejudice and divisive ideologies, but out state is going in a better direction."
This first-of-its-kind law comes as 37 states across the country have pushed to remove certain books in schools and libraries, especially those written by people of color and include LGBTQ+ themes.