The following article summarizes the original event which is listed below the summary.

The book-banning trend is rapidly increasing

Tue, October 24 2023, 11am

At our October 2023 forum, UMRA members heard a gripping and chilling presentation on the rapidly increasing trend to challenge and ban books in school and public libraries. Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson reported there were 1,269 attempts to ban books across the U.S. in 2022. Most of the challenged books involve people of color and with GLBTQIA [gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersexed, and ally] identities. 

Polls show that across the political spectrum large majorities of voters—Democrats, Independents, and Republicans—are against book banning. Librarians support parents making decisions on which books their children can read, but not limiting what other families might choose, Edson said.

Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the Kerlan Collection of Children’s Literature at University of Minnesota Libraries, explored the many challenges to books she has experienced during her career. She reminded members that even comic books were challenged in the early 1950s, for contributing to juvenile delinquency. She is very concerned that librarians have lost jobs for refusing to remove or ban books. 

Both speakers encouraged UMRA members to get involved in “education democracy” by checking out challenged books and supporting school and library board candidates who do not favor banning books. 

Von Drasek also noted the Kerlan Collection has the original artwork from many famous children’s books which can be viewed upon request. 

—Julie Sweitzer, UMRA Program Committee chair

Event recording
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The alarming movement in the U.S. to ban books

Tue, October 24 2023, 11am
Lisa Von Drasek
Curator, Kerlan Collection of Children's Literature
University of Minnesota Libraries

Midland Hills Country Club
2001 Fulham Street
Roseville, Minn. 55113


There is a growing movement in the United States to ban books, with children’s literature, including young adult material, under attack the most. To help us understand this alarming trend, UMRA welcomes University Librarian Lisa Von Drasek and Rochester Public Librarian Kimberly Edson as the speakers for our October 24 luncheon forum at Midland Hills Country Club in Roseville.

Von Drasek is an academic librarian at the University with 30 years of experience as a public librarian, school librarian, and academic librarian. She is curator of the U of M’s Children’s Literature Research Collections, including the renowned Kerlan Collection. 

Edson is the head of Reader Services at the Rochester Public Library (RPL), with more than 30 years’ experience as a public librarian. Edson is a member and past chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Minnesota Library Association (MLA). Both speakers have talked on the topic of book banning to other groups and have personal experience dealing with book banning efforts, from the political right and left.

Von Drasek and Edson share the perspective that a critical role of libraries is to further intellectual freedom. Their joint presentation and discussion will describe the “ins and outs” of book banning, set forth what is at stake, and outline how to get involved in advocacy efforts to counter book banning. They will discuss local and national trends, including changes to book challenges over the past 20 years, the impact of book banning efforts on legislatures and school boards, and the role of organized groups in challenging books. 

Chilling consequences

As professionals in the field of library sciences, they also will cover the chilling consequences librarians themselves are facing, the importance of libraries developing and following policies for reviewing book challenges, and the role of the MLA Intellectual Freedom Committee in combating book banning.

Von Drasek has written numerous peer-reviewed articles and lectured at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Her lectures have covered many topics relevant to children’s literature including emergent literacy, diversity in children's literature, comics and literacy, and new adult literature. She has reviewed children’s books for multiple publications, including The New York Times, and has served as a juror for many children’s book awards, including the Caldecott, Newbery, Ezra Jack Keats, National Book Awards for Young People's Literature, and the American Library Association's Notable Children's Books.

Kimberly Edson, Rochester public librarian
Kimberly Edson

As head of Reader Services at RPL, Kimberly Edson is responsible for selecting adult fiction, large-print books, feature films, recorded music, and related digital collections. Edson also manages the RPL bookmobile, adult programming, and homebound and deposit collection services, and promotes collections to under-served populations. Edson has served on the MLA Legislative Committee since 1999, and chaired the MLA Intellectual Freedom committee from 1989 to 2000. Edson has also served on the boards of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the Minnesota ACLU.

Don’t miss this engaging and informative forum. Please make your reservation today and join us at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 24, at Midland Hills.

—Barbara Shiels, UMRA Program Committee

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