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Stateside Podcast: Librarians concerned over uptick in book challenges

The Connect-ED partnership gives public school students in several Macomb County districts access to Ebooks and media online.
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Colorful books line the shelves of a library.

In Dearborn, community members have been at odds with the local school board over the availability of books centered on LGBTQ-positive stories in school libraries. In Jamestown, staff at the city's only public library have said they were harassed and accused of pedophilia and grooming over young-adult books containing LGBTQ-positive themes. Incidents like this have become increasingly common over the past two years.

It's part of a national trend. According to the American Library Association (ALA), which has been tracking book challenges for the past 20 years, there were a record-breaking 729 book challenges in 2021. This year, the ALA has already recorded 681 book challenges between January and August.

Debbie Mikula is the Executive Director of the Michigan Library Association, and she has an op-ed in the Washington Post about why the uptick has caused concern among librarians. She joined the Stateside podcast to explain some of the trends she’s seen, and what happens when a book is challenged.

GUEST:

  • Debbie Mikula, executive director, Michigan Library Association

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Music in this episode by Blue Dot Sessions.

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Anna joined Stateside as an assistant producer in August 2021. She is a recent graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism and previously worked for The State News as an intern and student government reporter.
Ronia Cabansag is a producer for Stateside. She comes to Michigan Radio from Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a BS in Media Studies & Journalism and English Linguistics with a minor in Computer Science.