DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – As many states make attempts to ban certain books from schools or libraries, Dayton Metro Library is taking steps to protect the books in its collection.
The Dayton Metro Library board recently passed a resolution declaring the library a “book sanctuary,” which allows them to collect and protect the books that are being challenged elsewhere.
Dayton Metro Library Executive Director Jeffrey Trzeciak said what lawmakers are doing when they challenge books is challenging democracy. Instead, he said choosing what library book to read is a choice.
“Anyone who does not want to read a particular book is welcome not to read that particular book, but it does not give them the right to decide what others can read or not read,” Trzeciak said.
Attempts to ban library books in the U.S. have nearly doubled from 2021 to 2022, with more than 1,269 challenges, according to the American Library Association.
Ohio has not been immune to attempts to ban books. The library association said there were 34 attempts to ban 79 books in Ohio in 2022. The most commonly challenged title in the state is “It’s Perfectly Normal.”
Trzeciak said most commonly the books that are challenged were written by authors of color or contain LGBTQ+ content.
“That’s almost universally the case. So it’s really two groups that are being targeted,” Trzeciak said.
On June 13, the governor of Illinois signed a law that makes the state the first to put a ban on book bans. The law states any library that bans a book would be ineligible for state funding.
“I applaud Illinois for the action that they’re taking because it’s acknowledging that reading is a fundamental freedom,” Trzeciak said.
In the two years since Trzeciak started at the library, he said there’s been five challenges to library books or materials at Dayton Metro Library branches. Challenges are taken before a panel for review, then its determined if the book is suitable for the collection.
Trzeciak said after review, all five challenged titles remain on library shelves.