The plot thickens: The battle over books comes at a cost

Librarians across the United States are facing backlash and even resigning over disputes about the appropriateness of certain books in their collections.

Context: The debates over what books are “too sexual and harmful” for children have polarized library board meetings and led to confrontations between librarians and book critics, creating a hostile working environment.
* This hostility is leading to a nationwide exodus of librarians, leading to significant staffing issues.

Real impacts: Librarians recount receiving death threats, feeling unsafe at work, and experiencing both physical and mental health problems due to the pressures they are facing.
* Amanda Jones, a school librarian in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, has had to take a six-month medical leave due to the stress and fear induced by these threats.

Impacts on libraries: In addition to causing librarians emotional distress, the disputes over books are financially costly and are contributing to a decline in library staffing.
* Livingston Parish currently has nearly 30% fewer staff than they need, and as a result, they have had to shut down entire sections of the library and cut back on services.

Echoes of these conflicts: Critics of the librarians, such as conservative activist Michael Lunsford, suggest that librarians are trying to push an “agenda” and that adjusting library funding might be a solution to the perceived problem.
* Existing and potential librarians have become fearful of entering or remaining in the profession due to the harsh, politically-charged climate.

Overall impact: This ongoing discord and polarization over books not only affects those directly involved but could also deepen divisions within communities as libraries continue to be understaffed and underutilized.

View original article on NPR

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