Progressive policy institute The Center for American Progress this week released a report urging more support for school libraries. It's well worth a read, offering a sound assessment of the state of school librarianship and a set of policy proposals to bolster school libraries. The report is a well-reasoned show of support for school librarians, coming at a time when they are facing escalating political attacks.

"More than 50 years of research across more than 60 studies show that students with access to well-resourced school libraries with certified librarians consistently perform better academically and score higher on standardized assessments," the report states. "Yet since 2000, there has been a nearly 20% drop in school librarian positions, which translates to 10,000 fewer full-time school librarians across the country."

As we reported at Publishers Weekly, PEN America released its latest report on school book bans, Banned in the USA: Narrating the Crisis, and the numbers are shocking. PEN found 4,349 book bans recorded across 23 states and 52 public school districts during the first half of the current school year, more than in the entire 2022-2023 year, in which 3,362 books were targeted. “For anyone who cares about the bedrock of American values and the protection of free expression, this report should be a red alert,” said the report’s lead author, Sabrina Baêta, Freedom to Read program manager at PEN.

As we also reported at Publishers Weekly, five more publishers have joined the litigation to permanently block Iowa's SF 496, one of the most contentious and sweeping book ban laws in the nation. In December, a federal judge blocked two key provisions of the law from being enforced, but the state has appealed that ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and briefs have now been filed.

PEN America has filed an amicus brief in Iowa, urging the appeals court to uphold the block of SF496. “Under the guise of protecting children from so-called age-inappropriate content, laws like SF496 are a smokescreen for censorship of constitutionally-protected expression and access to information," said Katie Blankenship, director of PEN America’s Florida office, in a statement.

Governor Ron DeSantis, despite insisting that book bans are a hoax, nevertheless signed a bill to curb them this week, and The Associated Press has a report.

The Washington Post takes a lengthy look at the surge in legislation in red states seeking to expose librarians to criminal liability for making allegedly inappropriate books available to minors, and why some states are working on laws to protect librarians. "Tara White was appointed Elkhart Community Schools’ director of literacy in 2015. For the first several years, she never fielded a book challenge—until 2021, when community members objected to 60 titles, she said. When she defended the books, a conservative website claimed she was fighting for porn in school," the articles states. "White resigned.... Nobody wants to go to jail, she said, for giving children books."

Nobody wants to go to jail, she said, for giving children books.

Elsewhere, Vanity Fair picked up the piece and followed on with a short take of its own. "Once upon a time, working as a librarian in America was not considered a dangerous vocation," writes Bess Levin. "But thanks to GOP state legislators, that’s now become a legitimate fear." has a report on the Alabama Library (ALLA) Association conference, where, among the discussions, librarians discussed the state's attempt to undermine professional library associations and the high cost—literally, in dollars—of book bans.

In Lancaster County, Penn., Lancaster Online reports that two qualified board members, including the only librarian on the board, failed to be reappointed by Republican leaders this week. You'll never guess why. "In letters to the board of commissioners, the Library System’s executive director, Karla Trout, had recommended that both members be reappointed in January, according to county records," the article notes. "But that was before a surge in interest came after Parsons and D’Agostino took to social media beginning March 7 to pan a scheduled children’s event featuring a drag queen at the Lancaster Public Library."

Over at Book Riot, Kelly Jensen begins her weekly censorship news roundup with an observation about Google and its changes to how it presents news. "Earlier this year, several users began to note that the 'News' tab on Google was disappearing. It wasn’t one time here or there. It was noticeable enough that several outlets reported on the issue," she writes. Indeed, Google’s experiment in disappearing the “news” feature wasn’t a bug. It was a goal"—and one with consequences.

And finally this week, NBC News has a lengthy report on what's been framed by the pastor of a local church as a battle of good vs. evil involving the public library in "Superman's hometown" of Metropolis, Ill., the library bill of rights, and a new Illinois law meant to combat book bans.

"The dispute has pitted the city’s mayor, a member of Eastland Life Church, against his own library board of trustees. It led to the abrupt dismissal of the library director, who accused the board of punishing her for her faith. And last month, it drew scrutiny from the state’s Democratic secretary of state, who said the events in Metropolis 'should frighten and insult all Americans who believe in the freedom of speech and in our democracy,'" the article notes. "Unlike in comic books and the Bible, the fight in Metropolis doesn’t break along simple ideological lines. Virtually everyone on either side of the conflict identifies as a Christian, and most folks here vote Republican. The real divide is between residents who believe the public library should adhere to their personal religious convictions, and those who argue that it should instead reflect a wide range of ideas and identities."

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.