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The Minnesota Daily

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State law prohibiting book bans effective August 1

Books can no longer be banned and librarians were given more protections under a new law.
Image by Hannah Kovnar
Books offering a certain message or opinion can no longer be removed or banned in libraries.

Gov. Tim Walz signed a bill prohibiting book bans in libraries on May 17 which will take effect August 1. 

The law, known as the Access to Library Materials and Rights Protection, prevents public libraries, University libraries and libraries in public and charter schools from removing reading material based on messages or opinions the book conveys, the law says. 

“Books are powerful, they open new worlds and expose us to new perspectives,” Walz said in a May 17 press release. “Protecting access to books means protecting access to the information and knowledge that our kids deserve. If you’re banning books, you’re always on the wrong side of history.” 

The statute also mandates every library have its own policy for removing books and challenged books must be reported to the Department of Education, Minnesota Library Association Legislative Co-Chair Sarah Hawkins said. 

Minnesota State Librarian Tamara Lee said book banning is different from book challenging, as challenging books or asking for a reconsideration process are still supported. Challenging a book may range from a parent asking why the book is there to removal of it from the library. 

“Everybody does have a right to be heard and communities have a right to voice their opinions and weigh in,” Lee added. 

Minnesota is one of six states that has signed anti-book ban bills across the nation, Lee said. The other five are Colorado, Illinois, Washington, Vermont and Maryland. 

Dean of the University of Minnesota Libraries Lisa German said having books with diverse representation is important and banning books can to limit that access. 

While there is a formal process for reconsidering books at the Hennepin County Library, most challenges do not pass a simple conversation, said Johannah Genett, the deputy director for support services at Hennepin County Library. 

“It’s not unusual for a patron to come to our staff and say, ‘I don’t know why you have this book on the shelf, I want to talk to somebody about it,’ and we’ve trained all of our staff to have those conversations,” Genett said. 

Genett said the most important part of the law is forbidding punishments of staff members for abiding by this legislation. 

“We have seen librarians in this country lose their jobs over this issue,” Genett said. “So having this legislation here really makes it black and white.” 

President of the Hennepin County Library Board Jessica Kraft said, as a parent herself, she has a right to help guide and limit her children but not other people’s. 

“I feel very strongly that we should have intellectual freedom in our libraries, that anybody should be able to check out different contents that they’re curious or interested in, and we shouldn’t be limiting that, that our collection should represent our diverse populations, and our diverse communities, and points of view,” Kraft said. 

Lee said libraries are one of the last free spaces and keeping them around is crucial in promoting learning and protecting intellectual freedom. 

“Minnesotans love their libraries,” Lee said. “We need to make sure they stay intact, that we maintain intellectual freedom, that we are representative of their communities. That’s why this statute is important to give a foundation to that activity. It’s important for democracy.”

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  • JoAnn
    Jun 24, 2024 at 11:56 pm

    One of the many reasons I love Minnesota