As legislation targeting libraries and librarians continues to advance in some states, Tovia Smith at NPR offers a solid report on the movement, including an effort in Georgia to force libraries to cut ties with the American Library Association. "On Thursday, a bill that would go further than any other passed the Georgia state Senate in a 33-to-20 vote and now heads to the House," Smith reports. "Republican state Sen. Larry Walker says he sponsored the legislation after discovering his library had received a $20,000 grant from the American Library Association to diversify its collection, adding books dealing with LGBTQ and BIPOC themes."

Yes, you read that right: this legislator introduced a bill to stop ALA from giving money to local libraries to buy books because he doesn't like the books. Later in the report, ALA's Deborah Caldwell-Stone nicely crystallizes the threat emerging in some conservative states. "Will [libraries] become arms of the state, only communicating those messages that a political actor believes is appropriate?" she asked Smith. "It just stuns me. We are the professional membership organization for librarians. Would you do this to the American Bar Association? Would you do this to the American Medical Association?"

Meanwhile, it appears that bills that would make it harder for book banners to target libraries have begun to stall in some states. Colorado Public Radio reports that a bill that would have made it harder for libraries and schools to remove books from their collections has died in committee. "As introduced, the Democratic legislation [SB24-049] would require school districts and public library districts to create a process that allows students, parents, or community members to formally object to materials, such as books, available in a school library or public library. Whether those items are removed would be decided by a committee named by either the local superintendent or a library director, using specific standards outlined in the bill."

Alaska News Source reports that a local city council brought in a lawyer to brief them on the legal pitfalls of banning books. "[The] presentation focused on two separate legal questions being asked by the city officials: Whether or not a public librarian can be charged criminally for 'distributing obscene materials to minors' and whether the city could be held civilly liable for removing or limiting library materials," the report noted.

In South Carolina, the Greenville Post & Courier reports that books involving trans issues are now banned from children's books sections in the Greenville County Library System. "The library system's board of trustees voted unanimously to approve the policy change Feb. 26, a little more than a week after a subcommittee recommended the change," the report notes. "Under the new rule, all materials for kids 12 and under that discuss trans issues as they relate to minors will be moved to the parenting and early-childhood section. It applies to any materials with 'illustrations, storylines or themes' discussing trans minors in any way, including social transitioning, medical transitioning, and dress or pronouns 'inconsistent with biological sex,' among other subjects. According to board Chairman Alan Hill, the policy change was prompted by a patron complaint about the book Melissa, previously called George."

'Melissa' and books like it are being restricted in the public library, too, exemplifying the slippery slope of censorship.

In a release, PEN America blasted the move by Greenville county officials. "Kasey Meehan, Freedom to Read program director at PEN America, said the board should reverse its decision, which she said was based on 'viewpoint discrimination' and noted that book banners have long argued that books are not banned just because they aren’t available in schools. 'But now, Melissa and books like it are being restricted in the public library, too, exemplifying the slippery slope of censorship as book bans—overwhelmingly those about LGBTQ+ identities—spread from schools to public libraries. We call on the board to reverse the decision and urge them to remember that libraries are for everyone, and the First Amendment is non-negotiable,' Meehan said.”

Library e-book legislation is back in the news. In Connecticut, CT Insider has an opinion piece by state Reps. Matt Blumenthal and Eleni Kavros DeGraw in support of their bills designed to support equitable access to library e-books, HB 5312 and SB 148. "These bills bar libraries that receive public funds from agreeing to...onerous terms," the reps write, going on to take aim at publisher claims that these new bills are, like a previous effort in Maryland, preempted by federal copyright law. "This claim is simply mistaken: our bills don’t implicate copyright law at all. Instead, they exercise a core power of state government: regulating how organizations that receive public funds may spend them. They ban libraries from agreeing to these unfair terms that waste taxpayer dollars and interfere with their mission. They impose no obligation on publishers whatsoever."

Over at Book Riot, Kelly Jensen leads off her weekly censorship column with an excellent take on the recent announcement by Mackin to partner with Common Sense Media to include age-based ratings and reviews for books. "Given the rise of sites like BookLooks—a Moms for Liberty–created 'review' database being rammed into schools and libraries across the country as an alternative to actual professional expertise—as well as RatedBooks, questions have come up over the legitimacy and use of Common Sense Media in schools and libraries," Jensen writes. "Unfortunately, not only is the answer that it is complicated but also this new integration from Mackin makes things even more complex, complicated, and potentially damaging in our current censorship climate."

And finally this week, the Mercury News reports that Mychal Threets, the Solano County librarian who became a viral TikTok star for sharing library joy, and later became the target for online trolls, is leaving his job to focus on his mental health.

"Despite an overwhelming outpouring of love and support for his hopeful and encouraging content, Threets has repeatedly faced online bullying and harassment for the videos he makes. He has repeatedly spoken candidly about how the backlash has affected his mental health while remaining kind and positive about those who have hurt him," the article states. "Threets, whose last day is March 1, says his first job working in a library was in the Solano County Library, and it gave him a chance to follow his dream. 'I went from library kid to being in charge of the library where I grew up in,” Threets said. 'It has been the honor of my life.'"

The Week in Libraries is a weekly opinion and news column. News, tips, submissions, questions or comments are welcome, and can be submitted via email. Previous columns can be viewed here.