In February 2022, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) launched a new committee focused on preparing for and resolving bans, challenges, and other forms of comic book censorship. in libraries. This committee’s focus on comics complements ALA’s broader work on Office of Intellectual Freedom challenges and the new United against book bans initiative.
“The challenges of comics are not new. In fact, comics quite often top ALA’s most contested book lists,” said GNCRT President Matthew Noe. “What is alarming is how widespread and targeted the challenges have been over the past year. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) received an unprecedented 729 counter reports in 2021, representing more than 1,597 counters or removals of individual books. And while the rationale for the challenges varies widely, it’s pretty clear that books by or about queer identities and those by or about Black, Indigenous, or other people of color are specifically targeted. A comic – Maia Kobabe’s memoir, Gender Queer – was the most targeted book in 2021. What we heard from our members is the need for our profession to be prepared with practical and actionable ways to address these growing concerns.
Comics are also among the most popular, most praised and most loved items on our shelves. We can do better to support each other and our readers. In one of the first actions of the newly formed committee, the GNCRT is launching a survey – and we want to hear from you.
Whether or not you have experienced a questioning of comics in your current or past library, the GNCRT wishes to know more about:
- your training or background in dealing with challenges
- the context around the comic book challenges you’ve encountered
- how can we help you – what resources, knowledge, talking points and community support do you need to prepare for and meet the challenges of comics in your libraries?
This survey is open to ALL – educators, library workers, administrators, library students, public libraries, college libraries, and K-12 school libraries. All survey information will be stored and shared anonymously, unless we have explicit permission from the respondent.
Survey link: https://bit.ly/GNCRTChallenge-survey
Our goal is to free up resources and report on the first round of survey responses beginning in June 2022 during the ALA Annual. To ensure that your feedback is taken into account in our first round of reports, please complete the survey by May 31, 2022.
This survey is NOT a way to report a challenge occurring in real time; if you are facing an ongoing challenge or ban, please contact our colleagues at the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) for immediate real-life support and to register that challenge :
In collaboration with OIF and other library colleagues like ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Roundtable (IFRT), our goal with this survey and with upcoming resources is to better understand the specific contexts around challenges of comics and graphic novels, and to better support comics librarianship. in all its forms. This survey will be one of the first large-scale information-gathering attempts to address the issue of the challenges of comics in libraries, by hearing directly from a range and range of library workers.
To learn more about our new committee and a (short) story of the challenges of comics in libraries and how you can respond with proactive collections development and advocacy, please see our recent article in List of books February 1, 2022: http://bit.ly/TradeSecretsWright
The GNCRT Committee for the Preparation and Resolution of Comic Book Bans, Censorship and Challenges in Libraries is:
- Amie Wright (Chair)
- Alec Chunn
- Daniel Patton
- Gabriel Lopez
- jack phoenix
- Julia Lanter
- Kara Baker
- Nathalie Dejonghe
- Ryan Grant
- Shawn Norton
About the Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable
The American Library Association’s Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable (GNCRT) is dedicated to supporting library staff in all aspects of engagement with graphic novels and comics, including developing collections, programming and advocacy. For more information, connect with GNCRT on Facebook: ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table; Twitter: @libcomix; Instagram: @libcomix; or the GNCRT ALA Connect page.
Founded in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the library profession to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.