In 2023, Banned Books Week is no longer a warning about what might happen if censorship goes unchecked, but what is happening.
Libraries and schools around the country are under attack, including violence and threats of violence, for providing reading materials and a safe space to enjoy them.
Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights attempts to censor books in libraries, schools, and bookstores.
The American Library Association (ALA) maintains lists of books that have been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on these efforts across the country, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The theme for Banned Books Week 2023 is “Let Freedom Read.”
The ALA reports that “in a time of intense political polarization, library staff in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.”
That total was almost double the 729 challenges reported in 2021. The ALA said 2,571 unique titles were targeted, also a record, and that most of them were by or about LGBTQIA+ people, and / or Black, Indigenous, and people of color.
“The right to determine what we read and think is critical to our free and democratic society,” said Oceana Wilson, President of the Vermont Library Association. “It is imperative that we recognize that the consequences of banning books go far beyond withdrawing an individual book from circulation. These efforts represent a threat, involving the erasure of both people and history, to the foundation of American democracy.”
Most of the concerns expressed by Vermont librarians to date have been in terms of self-censorship; that is, libraries opting not to provide certain materials or programs out of fear of being targeted for abuse. Only by a unified effort can we stand strong to provide our readers and visitors the rich, varied, and welcoming content that they have the First Amendment right to read.
Resources for your library are available at the links above and at Unite Against Book Bans.
Please reach out to the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Vermont Library Association if you need help with Banned Books Week or any other censorship issue, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Vermont Library Association (VLA) affirms its support for the American Library Association (ALA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit membership organization that develops, promotes, and improves library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.
The American Library Association has a representative in Vermont, Chapter Councilor Jessamyn West, who has served in this position since 2020.
- Promotes the Library Bill of Rights, affirming that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and Freedom to Read, affirming Americans can make their own decisions about what they read and believe.
- Supports First Amendment rights to free speech, thought, and opinion;
- Is composed of and serves people of all demographics and ideologies;
- Is not a governing body and has no authority over the governance of Vermont libraries, which have a wide range of organizing structures;
- Is governed by a council and executive board elected by the membership, including a representative from the Vermont Library Association;
- Provides information about library best practices to its membership, and creates public relations campaigns that promote library services;
- Offers professional development, publications, and conferences to its membership.
ALA is an effective advocate for funding from the federal government through the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ (IMLS) grants to states. Through ALA’s efforts with its members and allies, including the Chief Officers of State Library Associations, IMLS has increased its base funding nationally. The Vermont Department of Libraries has seen an increase of $326,077 or 26% from 2019 to 2023, to $1,247,111 annually.
During the pandemic years, ALA pushed for further support for libraries across the country. The Vermont Department of Libraries received additional critical dollars, $56,384 from the CARES Act and $2,135,819 from the American Rescue Plan Act.
ALA is the second-largest grant funder to libraries. Since 2021, ALA has awarded 44 libraries in Vermont a total of $276,000 for digital training workshops, bolstering technology in small and rural libraries, STEM resources, and other professional development and resources to help libraries better serve the needs of their communities.
The Vermont Library Association (VLA) Scholarship and Awards Committee did not receive any applications for the fall 2023 Professional Development Grant. Considering the recent flooding in Vermont, and the added pressures it is putting on libraries and their communities, the committee has decided to defer these funds to the spring 2024 Professional Grant Funding opportunity. The committee may award up to $250 for a Vermont Library Association member to attend a workshop, conference, or continuing education course. Therefore, in the spring, the committee will award two $250 grants. We sincerely hope that by then library staff will have the capacity to apply for these funds.
Thank you, thank you,
Pamela Cartier (she/her)
VLA Scholarship and Awards Committee Chair
The Vermont Library Association’s Scholarship and Awards Committee is accepting applications for the fall round of their professional development grant. Up to $250 is available to attend a workshop, a conference, or a continuing education course. The deadline for applications is Monday, Aug. 7, 2023, with the awardee notified by September 1.
To be eligible, applicants must:
- Be an active VLA member;
- Live in Vermont and/or work in a Vermont library; and
- Not have received a scholarship from VLA in the past two years.
For complete details and to apply, visit the VLA Professional Development Grant web page.
If you have additional questions, please contact Pamela Cartier, chair of the Scholarship and Awards Committee, at email@example.com.
The Vermont Library Association (VLA) stands with Vermont Humanities Program Officer Toussaint St. Negritude and with the Cobleigh Public Library, who were targeted by protesters on Saturday, June 10. VLA supports the freedom to speak without oppression or fear.
VLA recognizes that St. Negritude, who was leading an LGBTQ+ Pride poetry reading at Cobleigh Library in Lyndonville, was the direct target of the small group of protesters because of his identity as a gay Black man.
VLA denounces the behavior of anyone who would condemn, abuse, or attack another person because of who they are. It is vital to actively stand in support of members of Vermont’s BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.
Cobleigh Library plays a central role in the Northeast Kingdom by providing a meeting space, books, and many other community resources, and it strives to be a safe, welcoming environment for all. VLA also understands that the protest makes it harder for the library to do this vital work, as it was intended to intimidate patrons, staff, and presenters, and thereby chill the types of programming the library offers. We support Librarian Bryn Hoffman in their efforts to ensure that everyone is free to read, access information, exchange ideas, and speak freely at Cobleigh Public Library.
Vermont Library Association
July 12, 2023
Vermont libraries should be aware of a coordinated, nationwide series of story hours planned for Aug. 5.
They are being organized by author, conservative speaker and former child actor Kirk Cameron and BRAVE Books, a Texas-based publisher whose mission is “to help parents instill a love of truth in their children so that the children will withstand harmful progressive influences.”
We don’t know of any events scheduled for Vermont yet, but there are a few simple tips to keep in mind:Read more
Dear VLA Members,
The Vermont Library Association’s annual meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, 2023, via Zoom. The link will be emailed to you closer to the date. The purpose of the annual meeting is to provide a forum for our sections to meet and hold their annual elections for leadership. In addition, all members will be voting on the following VLA positions:
We are still looking for individuals to fill these positions. This is an excellent opportunity to learn leadership skills and to learn more about Vermont libraries in general. If you are interested in learning more, I urge you to check out our position descriptions and position responsibilities. You may also contact the current officers, listed here with their contact information.
Now is also a great time to renew your lapsed membership, prior to the vote. Membership details are available on our membership webpage.
Electronic absentee ballots will be available via VLA Secretary Barbara Ball.
VLA only works if you do! Thank you for being an active member!
Kelly L. McCagg
One thing will become abundantly clear after I read the list of retirees, and that is that these individuals have dedicated multiple decades of service to Vermont public libraries,” said Pamela Cartier, co-chair of the Vermont Library Association Scholarship and Awards Committee. Cartier, who is coordinator of the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC) at the Vermont Law and Graduate School’s Julien and Virginia Cornell Library, recognized Vermont Library Association members who retired in the last year or are soon retiring. “Each one is tremendously deserving of recognition for their commitment both to librarianship and their libraries,” she said.
The retirees, recognized in alphabetic order during the April 3 Vermont Library Conference, are:
Six people received 2023 Vermont Library Association awards, presented for outstanding service to and support of the state’s libraries. The awards were presented during the annual Vermont Library Conference on April 3, 2023.
Senator Patrick Leahy was named Library Advocate of the Year. “VLA is greatly appreciative of all Senator Leahy has done for libraries in our state,” said Pamela Cartier, VLA Scholarships & Awards Committee Co-Chair and coordinator of the Community Legal Information Center (CLIC) at the Vermont Law School’s Julien and Virginia Cornell Library. “His unwavering support and advocacy of libraries will have impacts on Vermont communities for many years to come.”
The Vermont Library Association’s Scholarship and Awards Committee is accepting applications for the spring round of their professional development grant. Up to $250 is available to attend a workshop, a conference, or a continuing education course. The deadline for applications is Monday, May 1, 2023, with the awardee notified by June 1.
To be eligible, applicants must:
• Be an active VLA member;
• Live in Vermont and/or work in a Vermont library; and
• Not have received a scholarship from VLA in the past two years.
For complete details and to apply, visit the VLA Professional Development Grant webpage.
If you have additional questions, contact one of the Scholarship and Awards Committee co-chairs:
Pamela Cartier at firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Danko at email@example.com