NJEA joins librarians to oppose censorship and book banning

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA), the New Jersey Association of School
Librarians (NJASL), New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) have watched, with concern, the
growing number of coordinated attempts of censorship and suppression in schools and libraries in New Jersey and across the country. Many of these attacks are targeting materials and programs that address race, racism, sexuality, and gender identity and expression. New Jersey school, public, and academic library workers are being defamed, harassed and threatened in public school board meetings, public library board of trustees meetings, on social media and on public media. Their professionalism, honor, work ethics and performance are being questioned, judged and vilified.

The signers of this statement condemn these attacks. We strongly affirm the Library Bill
of Rights and the Freedom to Read Statement, first published by the American Library
Association in 1953. We respect and recognize New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, and
refuse to participate in efforts to discriminate against protected groups by weaponizing
information. Libraries provide access to books and other library resources and services for the interest, information, education, and enlightenment of all people within the communities we serve. They do not exclude materials because of their origin, background, or the views of those contributing to their creation. Libraries do not discriminate against any group, recognizing that a healthy democracy holds many voices and free access to credible information is a cornerstone that keeps all of us safe, healthy, and informed about the world around us.

Library workers are trained to curate collections that are designed to be inclusive.
NJASL’s job description states that school librarians are obligated to:

  • Select, purchase and process new materials to assure a current and balanced
    collection representing diverse points of view in accordance with the district
    materials selection policy
  • Continuously evaluate library resources with respect to curricular needs,
    accuracy, diversity
    , and community interest, removing those that do not meet
    established criteria, ensuring that the collection stays current, relevant, and in
    good condition

Information service providers are guided by the tenets of intellectual freedom and their
ethical responsibilities to uphold the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. Through careful consideration and rigorous training, librarians and library workers are equipped to make selection decisions that represent a balance of the spectrum of knowledge.

We appreciate the right and responsibility of parents and guardians to guide the reading
choices of their children. Such rights should not inhibit the rights of others to read or view
materials of their choosing. As parents, educators, administrators, and school board members, we stand united against prejudices, and politically motivated culture wars that target the right to read and access to education and information.

We reaffirm our commitment to our communities, the right to be who they are and to see
themselves represented in books, regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race,
ethnicity, or religion.

The New Jersey Library Association, the New Jersey Association of School Librarians and the New Jersey Education Association stand together to support the freedom to read. In addition, these organizations stand in steadfast support of New Jersey’s library workers, community members, and students, who demonstrate daily courage as champions of the right to read for everyone.

Signed by:
New Jersey Education Association
New Jersey Library Association
New Jersey Association of School Librarians