DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Politicians will be prevented from banning books in public libraries under a new law sponsored by state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, D-Downers Grove, and signed into law today by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“Banning books is not something that should have ever been permitted to begin with in a 21st century democracy,” Stava-Murray said. “For a group of people to weaponize local government to force their views on the rest of the community is not American. That’s what third world dictatorships do, not democracies. I’m proud to have played a role in keeping authoritarian censorship out of Illinois.”
The new law requires that libraries agree to reject external attempts to ban certain books, for reasons of doctrine or partisanship, in order to be eligible for state grants. They can do this either by developing their own conforming policy or by adopting the guidelines developed by the American Library Association. It was an initiative of Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias who, among other duties, serves as the state’s principal Librarian and who asked Stava-Murray to sponsor the bill.
In 2022, a local school board in Stava-Murray’s district was subject to pressure and protests by groups demanding certain books be banned from school libraries. Some board members faced harassment. Stava-Murray highlighted the example of kids who successfully agitated against a ban of the book, ‘Gender Queer’, but said that kids shouldn’t have to be the heroes when adults try to impose partisan censorship.
“The free exchange of ideas from diverse perspectives is essential to democracy and to a free society,” Stava-Murray said. “America’s heritage as a melting pot where anyone from any culture, nationality, creed, religion or tradition is welcome requires that everyone from any of these groups be equally free to speak and be heard and to share their stories and unique experiences. Book bans are fundamentally incompatible with that.
“That’s why I’m proud of having taken this stand for diversity and freedom of expression. Those who seek to rewrite, censor, ban and selectively edit history and the stories of others in order to advance an incomplete and misleading partisan narrative are pursuing an unjust, reactionary agenda—and this is about not letting them get away with it.”
Stava-Murray’s office is reachable at 630-605-0595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.