Illinois set to become first state to end book bans

Governor JB Pritzker expected to sign bill that would block state funding for public libraries and schools that ban books.

Governor JB Pritzker is expected to sign a bill that would make Illinois the first state to legislate to end book bans – by punishing publicly-funded institutions that attempt to censor in that way.

A bill is on Pritzker’s desk after passing the state legislature that would block essential state funding for public libraries and public schools in Illinois that ban books.

Only libraries in the state that adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states that reading materials should not be removed or restricted because of partisan or personal disapproval, or develop a written statement prohibiting the practice of banning books within a library system will continue to get its state funding.

The Illinois senate passed HB 2789 earlier this month and the bill was sent to Democratic governor Pritzker last week, who is now poised to sign it. Once enacted, it takes effect on January 1 next year.

“In Illinois, we don’t hide from the truth,” Pritzker said in a statement when the legislation was introduced in March. “We embrace it and lead with it. Banning books is a devastating attempt to erase our history and the authentic history of many.”

Book bans in US public-sector schools increased by 28% in the first half of the 2022-23 academic year, the writers’ organization PEN America said last month.


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