OAN’s Geraldyn Berry
5:55 PM – Thursday, May 4, 2023
In a vote that divided lawmakers along party lines on Wednesday, Illinois lawmakers have approved a bill that mandates that libraries in the state adopt an anti-book-banning policy in order to receive state money.
The final version of House Bill 2789 passed the state Senate 39 to 19 after it was approved in March by the House on a 66 to 39 vote. It reportedly sits on the desk of Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-Ill.), who expressed excitement about signing it.
According to the measure, public libraries, including those located in public schools and colleges, must either accept the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights or establish their own written declaration that forbids the banning of books.
The secretary of state’s office has said that a library will not be eligible for grant financing if it does not certify either of the statements or goes as far as to prohibit a book.
“In Illinois, we don’t hide from the truth, we embrace it and lead with it,” the governor. “Banning books is a devastating attempt to erase our history and the authentic stories of many.”
The initiative, led by Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, stands in opposition to escalating efforts to limit access to literature on subjects like race, gender, and sexuality in American schools and libraries. He spoke at a news conference Wednesday.
“This landmark legislation is a triumph for our democracy, a win for First Amendment rights, and most importantly, a great victory for future generations to come,” he said.
The secretary also added that suppressing access to books was “about restricting the freedom of ideas that certain individuals disagree with and that certain individuals think others should have access to.”
“All these efforts to curb reading materials have absolutely nothing to do with books. They are about restricting the freedom of ideas that certain individuals disagree with and that certain individuals think others should have access to,” Giannoulias said.
Republican senators who have opposed the bill have contended that their objective is to ensure that the literature provided to public libraries and schools are suitable for children.
In the Illinois Senate, all 19 Republicans had voted against the measure, including Republican Senator Jason Plummer (R-Ill.) who claimed that the bill was an example of Democrats “pushing an ideology on Illinois citizens, regardless of where they live or what they believe.”
He expressed that it was “offensive to take away public funds from people whose taxes paid for these grants.”
The notion that communities will lose control was rejected by Giannoulias, who claimed that local librarians “have the knowledge and professional expertise to select what is in circulation.
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