A bill intended to protect the safety of the state’s libraries has passed the Illinois House of Representatives. House Bill 4567 expands protections for libraries and library workers by making those who make bomb threats or other threats of violence against libraries subject to the same penalties as individuals who threaten schools.

The measure, which was passed on May 22, also helps make libraries safer for workers and patrons by creating grants aimed to support improved library security. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, said that the bill comes in response to a spike in the rate of threats made against libraries and librarians.

Stava-Murray also supported anti-book ban legislation initiated last year by the state librarian, Illinois secretary of state Alexi Giannoulias, and signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. That law allows Giannoulias’s office to authorize grant funding only to libraries that adhere to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which states that reading materials should not be removed or restricted because of partisan or personal disapproval.

“Last year, we became the first state in the U.S. to effectively protect libraries and librarians from authoritarian book bans, and I was proud to sponsor the law that did it,” Stava-Murray said. “Unfortunately, some in our state chose to escalate from bans and discrimination to threats of violence. That’s why I’m acting once again to protect our libraries and the dedicated professionals who make them run.”

The bill passed the house with bipartisan support. It now heads to the state senate for consideration.

“Library collections should be managed and curated by professional librarians and not by authoritarian extremists with partisan agendas,” Stava-Murray said. “If those who favor censorship and divisive restrictions resort to threats when they don’t get their way, we have to ensure we’re ready to address that, impose accountability and keep families and communities safe.”