May 2, 2022 - News

Nashville library releases "I read banned books" card

image of a banner that reads "I read banned books: Nashville Public Library"
Image: courtesy of the Nashville Public Library

The Nashville Public Library (NPL) launched a campaign celebrating the "freedom to read,” a rebuttal to state legislators' efforts to make it easier to ban books in schools.

  • A limited-edition library card proclaims "I read banned books" as part of the library's drive to distribute 5,000 new cards in one month.
  • Both new and existing cardholders can pick up one of the limited-edition cards at any library branch through May 26.

Why it matters: NPL is rejecting censorship efforts that have cropped up around the state and the nation.

What they're saying: "I want Nashvillians to know: Nashville Public Library will always respect your freedom to read — to independently determine what you read, and don’t read, and to exercise your role in determining what your children read," NPL director Kent Oliver said in a statement.

  • "This campaign is our way of bringing our community together in our shared freedom to read, which is essential to sustaining our democracy."

Between the lines: State lawmakers approved legislation last week that would give a politically appointed panel the power to override school board decisions and remove books from school libraries across the state.

  • The bill's Republican sponsor drew criticism last week for suggesting banned books be burned, although he later said book burning was unlikely.

The big picture: Impassioned debates over books allowed in school libraries and curriculums have spiked across the country.

Zoom in: NPL mentioned two high-profile local incidents while announcing its new initiative.

  • The McMinn County school board removed "Maus," a graphic novel about the Holocaust, from its curriculum in January.
  • Williamson County schools removed the award-winning book "Walk Two Moons" following pressure from a conservative parents group.

Yes, but: 71% of voters oppose efforts to remove books from school libraries, according to a 2022 national poll conducted for the American Library Association and cited in the NPL announcement.

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