iSchool Faculty Speaks Out Against Recent Increase in Book Bannings and Challenges

Interview with Dr. Belinda Boon, Associate Professor; Kent State School of Information 

There has been a recent increase in the number of book challenges and bannings in both schools and public libraries across the United States.  

The most common trend in these challenges/bannings pertains to books relating to racial and LGBTQIA+ issues. However, other topics commonly challenged include violence, political views, profanity, and the death of a child. 

Many of these issues are motivated by larger political movements that have, in turn, influenced people to challenge books opposed to their political viewpoints. 

Associate Professor Dr. Belinda Boon, from the Kent State University School of Information (iSchool) gives us her professional perspective on the issue. 

According to Dr. Boon, there is a distinct difference between a book challenge and a book banning.  

A book challenge will occur when an individual or group requests that a certain book or library material be removed from the collection. A book banning occurs after the item(s) in question has been reviewed and removed, in response to the request.

Dr. Boon expressed her concern with the recent rise in challenges and bannings. When asked the significance of the issue, Boon replied, “The basis of Intellectual Freedom is the right to read, view, or listen to any material and make up your own mind what to think about it. Being exposed to a variety of viewpoints—including those that may make you feel uncomfortable—is not just crucial for developing critical thinking skills, it is the foundation of a democratic society.”  

The American Library Association provides information and resources on ways to involved in response to book bannings and challenges.

Boon points out that the iSchool at Kent State is based on the foundational principle of upholding and ensuring intellectual freedom and explains that this principle is covered and highlighted in almost every class, including specific electives, offered by the iSchool.

Many students enrolled in the iSchool are also employed at public, school or academic libraries and deal with issues relating to book challenges or bannings on a weekly or monthly basis. The iSchool at Kent State strives to ensure their students are prepared when these issues arise. Boon states, “We present the foundational principles of the profession and facilitate discussions around these precepts so that students will be prepared when these issues come up in their career.” 

Dr. Boon encourages individuals to become aware of their democratic rights to have free and open access to materials. Boon stated, “Show up at local board meetings and be vocal in support of educators, librarians, and intellectual freedom…Just because someone objects or doesn’t want their child to be exposed to a particular idea doesn’t give them the right to prevent anyone else from having access to those materials.” 




Why Book Banning is Back…;



UPDATED: Thursday, June 13, 2024 07:51 PM
Karli Miller, '22