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Large majorities of voters oppose book bans and trust libraries

First-of-its-kind survey confirms national bipartisan support for freedom to read

CHICAGO — Amid the recent proliferation of efforts to ban books in every state across the country, a new national poll commissioned by the American Library Association (ALA) shows that seven in 10 voters oppose efforts to remove books from public libraries, including the majority of voters across party lines. Three-quarters of parents of public school children (74%) express a high degree of trust in school librarians to make good decisions about what books to make available to children, and when asked about the types specific books that have been the subject of local debate. , large majorities say for each that they should be available in school libraries based on age.

The new poll is the first to look at the issue of book bans through the lens of public and school libraries. He also found an almost universal high regard for librarians and recognition of the essential role that public and school libraries play in their communities.

The results show that, far from being a partisan issue, book bans are opposed by a large majority of voters from all parties. The value of libraries and librarians enjoys similar bipartisan support, with strong majorities of voters expressing confidence in libraries and preference for librarians.

  • Large majorities of voters (71 percent) oppose efforts to have the books removed from their local public libraries, including majorities of Democrats (75 percent), independents (58 percent) and Republicans (70 percent). %).
  • Most voters and parents hold librarians in high regard, trust their local libraries to make good decisions about which books to include in their collections, and agree that libraries in their communities do a good job of providing books that represent a variety of viewpoints.
    • Nine in 10 voters (90%) and parents (92%) have a favorable opinion of librarians who work in local public libraries and school libraries.
    • Voters from all political backgrounds say that public libraries (89% of all voters and 95% of Democrats, 78% of independents, 87% of Republicans) and school libraries (92% of all voters and 96% of Democrats, 85% Independents, 91% Republicans) play an important role in communities and schools.
  • Most voters trust local public libraries to make good decisions about their collections and think libraries do a good job representing a variety of viewpoints.
    • Nearly eight in 10 voters (79%) and parents (79%) say libraries in their community do a good job of providing books that represent a variety of viewpoints, a sentiment shared by the majority of Democrats (89 %), Independents (77%) and Republicans (70%), and by majorities of voters from all demographic backgrounds.
    • Three in four voters (75%) are confident in local public libraries to make good decisions about books to include in their collections, and 74% of parents are confident in public school libraries’ decisions about their collections.
  • The majority of public school parents say that various types of books should be available in school libraries depending on their age.
    • This includes works on US history that focus on the role of slavery and racism in shaping America today, such as the “1619 Project” (84%); literary works that use racial slurs, such as “Huckleberry Finn,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and “Of Mice and Men” (82%); young adult novels that depict police violence against black people, such as “Ghost Boys” and “The Hate U Give” (68%); fiction and non-fiction books about lesbian, gay and transgender people, such as “George” and “This Day in June” (65%); and works of fiction that have sexually explicit content, including scenes of sexual violence, such as “Beloved” and “Looking for Alaska” (57%)

“The survey results confirm what we know and have observed: the book ban is widely opposed by most voters and parents,” said ALA President Patricia “Patty” Wong. “As a career librarian who started my career in public libraries working with children, I am delighted to see that parents have great confidence in school libraries’ decisions about their collections and very few believe that school librarians ignoring parental concerns.This really validates the value and integrity of library professionals at a time when many feel drained from the accusations made by small but noisy groups.

More than 330 unique cases of book bans and challenges were reported to ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) between September 1 and November 30, 2021. Challenge totals in 2021 more than doubled the number of reports from 2020 (156 challenges) and far exceeded the total of challenges from 2019 (377 challenges). The OIF will announce the full 2021 Book Challenge totals and list of the top ten most challenged books on April 4, 2022, during National Library Week (April 3-9). The annual account of book censorship in the United States will be published as part of ALA’s State of Libraries in America report.

The survey was conducted by the bipartisan team of Hart Research Associates and North Star Opinion Research on behalf of the ALA among 1,000 voters and 472 parents of school children in the public. The survey was conducted March 1-6, 2022, and the sample is demographically and geographically representative of American voters and parents. Additional survey results and methodology are available on the ALA website.

About the American Library Association
The American Library Association (ALA) is the leading national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, ALA has been the trusted voice of academic, public, school, government and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the role of the library in improving learning and access to information for all.