American Library Association report targets concerned conservatives

by Renata

The American Library Association has released a new report targeting conservatives.

Early last week, the American Library Association released a list of the top 10 most challenged books in 2023. This was part of its lengthier “State of America’s Libraries” report this year, which attempted to paint a virtual target on the backs of concerned conservative parents and individuals.

According to ALA’s data for 2023, ALA charted “the highest number of titles targeted for censorship since ALA began compiling data more than 20 years ago” – in their words. The group documented 4,240 unique titles that had experienced some kind of challenge. This is a sharp rise from the 2,571 challenged in 2022, representing a 65% increase. But overall, the data shows there were a total of 9,021 titles challenged in 2023.

ALA says that 17 states experienced challenges on at least 100 titles. These states vary in location and dominant political affiliation, including everything from Connecticut to Texas and in between. However, one thing the data makes clear is that the largest number of titles challenged were in primarily Republican-voting states.

In a separate write-up of its data, ALA argues that these challenges are often done “by conservative parent groups and right-wing media.” Their data suggests that 24% of all total challenges in 2023 were directly from parents, and another 21% came from so-called “pressure groups.”

But the write-up goes even further, implicating conservatives as the driving factor behind censorship of literature. The ALA writes:
“Recent censorship data are evidence of a growing, well-organized, conservative political movement, the goals of which include removing books about race, history, gender identity, sexuality, and reproductive health from America’s public and school libraries that do not meet their approval. Using social media and other channels, these groups distribute book lists to their local chapters and individual adherents, who then utilize the lists to initiate a mass challenge that can empty the shelves of a library.”

Many of these challenges have indeed come from conservative or Republican-leaning individuals. But their reasons are more complex than just banning content that does “not meet their approval.” For example, Moms for Liberty is a grassroots organization that has campaigned to protect children from what they consider to be inappropriate material.

The founders of the group, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich, told NewsNation last year that they aren’t looking to outright “ban” any type of content, but are looking to draw guidelines between what is allowed in a public library and a children’s library. Politicians on Capitol Hill had noted similar concerns, even reading portions of sexually explicit material from some of the most challenged books and questioning its reason to be allowed around children.