CHICAGO — Illinois leaders warn that the effort to pull more books off library shelves across the United States is growing.
The warning comes as the nation celebrates Banned Book Week, which runs from Oct. 1-7.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton spoke about the dangers of book bans at the University of Chicago’s Regenstein Library.
“There’s a mob mentality that’s taking hold, based on the misguided notion that everyone’s personal taste in books ought to be codified so that no one else may access the books that each person may find distasteful,” Pritzker said.
“Illinois continues to stand on the right side of history, refusing to censor educational and social reading material that celebrates our diversity and the richness of the human experience,” Lt. Gov. Stratton added. “As we celebrate Banned Books Week, our administration is committed to protecting the voices and stories of those who have historically gone unheard and unseen.”
Free speech group Pen American says attempts to censor books have jumped 33 percent in the past year. Most books at the center of censorship attempts were written by people of color or members of the LGBTQ+ community.
In response, the University of Chicago says it is expanding its banned booked library to keep them in circulation.
In June 2023, Pritzker signed a bill making Illinois the first state to outlaw book bans, encouraging schools and libraries to embrace education, literary justice, and equity.
The bill takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.