Dear District Administrators,
As you may have seen in the news and some firsthand in your district, schools in Wisconsin and across the nation are facing increased pressure to censor books found in their libraries. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction supports access to library materials and freedom to read for all Wisconsin residents and has resources to help districts in the event of a challenge to materials.
Our support is most often requested when a difficult situation arises, but there are simple, proactive steps administrators can take to prepare themselves. Your district has board policies related to the selection and reconsideration of library materials, as well as related guidelines and procedures. It is helpful to review these documents with your library media specialist to build awareness and understanding, as well as to develop possible talking points to share with members of your school board.
School libraries provide opportunities for students to expand their academic inquiries, read recreationally, and explore their interests. This unique environment allows for student choice in a more personalized way than in the classroom. It is important to note the school library collection is curated differently and serves different intentions than materials selected for the curriculum or classroom. School libraries have no required reading. The purpose of school libraries is to meet the needs of all students, while maintaining that not all books are for all students. Therefore, questions regarding library resources should be handled differently than those surrounding curriculum materials.
The most effective way to handle challenges to school library materials is to follow your established policies and procedures. Some helpful talking points on the importance of policies and their connection to library plans can be found in the article “Setting Library Policies” from the December 2021 issue of Wisconsin School News.
If you are interested in learning more, these links may also be helpful:
- Cooperative Children’s Book Center Intellectual Freedom Resources: The CCBC has an extensive website, including the What IF...Forum, which highlights frequently asked questions. Wisconsin schools can also reach out to the CCBC for personalized support.
- School Librarians Speak Out Against Recent Upsurge to Ban Books: This PBS NewsHour story highlights the concerns being raised nationwide.
Please reach out to Monica Treptow, School Library Education Consultant, with any questions or if you desire support.