Many controversies are brewing simultaneously in the State of Florida over the banning of books and attacks on intellectual freedom. Curricula is being rejected, books are being pulled from shelves, programs are being cancelled, and disinformation continues to spread. Both the American Library Association and the Florida Library Association have expressed their support for diverse books and intellectual freedom, prioritizing the “equal and equitable access for all individuals to a diverse library collection that does not exclude material ‘because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.’” Recently, the Broward County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution demonstrating their commitment to academic freedom, noting that “acts that undermine and erode the ability of our students to access and critically consider views and ideas from different histories and cultures also undermine the development of citizens capable of meaningful participation in our democracy.”
In an effort to translate our concern into positive action, Broward County Libraries Division is hosting a panel discussion entitled “Freedom to Read: Intellectual Freedom in a Healthy Democracy.” Hosted by the BCL’s African American Research Library and Cultural Center, the conversation will explore the history of book banning, and the cultural pressures that have created today’s climate. Most importantly, we seek to educate and empower members of our community to understand their role in protecting and preserving these fundamental rights in our society.
Thanks to a contribution from Akidsco, free copies of two books that are being banned across the nation, A Kids Book About Systemic Racism by Jordan Thierry and A Kids Book About White Privilege by Ben Sand, will be available for visitors.
Shane Roopnarine, President, Florida Library Association
Emily J. M. Knox, Ph.D., MSLIS, Associate Professor, School of Information Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Tameka Bradley Hobbs, Ph.D., Library Regional Manager, African American Research Library and Cultural Center
Moderator: Allison Grubbs, Director, Broward County Library
About the African American Research Library and Cultural Center
The Broward County African American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) is located in the Sistrunk community, one of the oldest historically Black communities named for one of Fort Lauderdale’s first Black physicians. Opening to the public on October 26, 2002, AARLCC became the third public library of its kind in the United States dedicated to the study of Black history and culture. The 60,000 square-foot Center serves as a repository of materials related to the local, national, and international voices of the African diaspora with more than 85,000 books, manuscripts, artifacts, framed art, print, photography, audiovisual, and documents held in our Adult Services Section and Special Collections. The Youth Services Section features a special collection of Coretta Scott King Award books and the Ashley Bryan Art Collection from illustrators of African Descent. AARLCC also features a 5,000 sq. ft. museum, a 300-seat state-of-the-art theatre, and a Computer Training Center.