It's about time. A year after first hearing the case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has finally ruled on a key book banning case from Llano County, Texas. By a 2-1 margin, the court largely upheld Judge Robert Pitman's preliminary injunction, ordering the return of eight library books to shelves, a significant win for freedom to read advocates.

"The majority opinion, authored by Judge Jacques L. Wiener, said the district court came to the reasonable conclusion that the defendants targeted and removed books—including well-regarded, prize-winning books—based on complaints that the books were inappropriate," Bloomberg Law reports. Not surprisingly, conservative justice Stuart Kyle Duncan issued a blistering dissent calling the majority opinion a “trainwreck” and arguing, astonishingly, that libraries’ decisions are protected government speech.

Meanwhile, another key appeals hearing is coming up in Iowa. On June 11, the Eighth Circuit will hear the state's appeal of Judge Stephen Locher's 49-page opinion and order, blocking two key portions of SF 496, the recently passed Iowa state law that sought to ban books with sexual content from Iowa schools and to bar classroom discussion of gender identity and sexuality for students below the seventh grade.

The American Library Association and Unite Against Book Bans have announced that Hanif Abdurraqib will deliver the keynote address at the second annual Rally for the Right to Read, to be held on the opening Friday of the upcoming ALA Annual conference, set to run June 27-July, in San Diego.

Abdurraqib is an award-winning poet, essayist and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio, and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius grant. His most recent book, There’s Always This Year, was an instant bestseller, and his previous work, A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance was a PW Best Book of 2021, a National Book Award Finalist, and the winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction.

The rally will take place at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront on Friday June 28, and all ALA attendees are invited to attend. Admission is free, and donations to the Unite Against Book Bans campaign are encouraged. In addition to a slate of speakers, the event will recognize the 2024 recipients of the Freedom to Read Foundation's Roll of Honor Award, the Eli M. Oboler Award, the John Phillip Immroth Award, and the Gerald Hodges Intellectual Freedom Chapter Relations Award.

As Publishers Weekly reported, last year's inaugural rally was a highlight of the ALA Annual Conference.

In Pennsylvania, local affiliate WGAL reports on one librarian who will be honored at the Rally for the Right to Read: Lancaster County school librarian Matthew Good, who will receive the John Phillip Immroth Award. Good left the Donegal School District in Lancaster County for standing up to a policy requiring students to get parental consent before accessing young adult books. “Ethically, it was an easy decision. But there was a lot that I struggled with as well because I love teaching. I loved working with students. But this was restricting the ability to do the job that I had chosen to do,” he told reporters.

Also in Pennsylvania, Lancaster Online reports on another school librarian who will also be celebrated at ALA. The American Association of School Librarians, a division of the American Library Association, will give its 2024 Intellectual Freedom Award to Cathi Fuhrman, who fought revisions to library policy in the Hempfield School District, where she formerly worked. “I felt like I needed to speak up for intellectual freedom and for best practices when it comes to selection policy," she said.

And in Philadelphia, PBS affiliate WHYY reports on the sudden departure of the staff of Free Library of Philadelphia's Author Event program. "Sources inside the library staff say there was a culture of disrespect from leadership," the report states, adding that "the departed staff have the support of visiting writers, including bestselling novelist Jennifer Weiner, who has been featured in the Author Event series at least a dozen times."

What gives us hope is knowing that the extremists truly are just a very loud minority.

Rocky Mountain PBS reports that Colorado ranks among the top 17 states in the nation for book bans, with more than 100 titles targeted for public libraries across the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. “We have seen the largest rise in attempts to remove or restrict library resources, not just books. So it’s digital resources, it’s programs, it’s exhibits, it’s speakers. It’s almost everything a library does,” James LaRue, former director of the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, who spent 24 years as director of the Douglas County Public Library District, told the outlet.

Meanwhile, the Denver Post reports that Colorado governor Jared Polis has signed the state's anti book banning bill into law. The law prohibits the exclusion of books and other resources on the basis of ethnic background or gender identity.

At Book Riot, Kelly Jensen leads her typically excellent roundup of censorship news with a deep dive on how freedom to read advocates in Alabama are fighting back, including a Q&A with reps from Read Freely Alabama. "What gives us hope," reps for the group told Book Riot, "is knowing that the extremists truly are just a very loud minority and that the vast majority of people, even here in such a traditionally red state, see the danger inherent in these pushes for censorship and erasure and are pushing back."

Local affiliate WXOX in Wisconsin reports that the La Crosse Public Library received a $10,000 grant from the American Library Association to help the library better assist incarcerated individuals by expanding its programs and services. “In a jail where there are conditions of isolation and there just aren’t a whole lot of opportunities there for meaningful social connection, the library has some really amazing services and programming that can help each other just get connected,” Kam Hartfield, library assistant for the library’s department of access and engagement, said.

And finally this week, WKMS in Tennessee reports on a survey of public libraries conducted by the Tennessee Library Association, which found that more than half of 63 respondents reported receiving some type of book challenge in 2021 or 2022. "The state-level survey included informal challenges, like when a patron verbally asks a librarian to remove or restrict a title, without filing any official paperwork. Large national datasets often don’t capture these kinds of challenges," the report states. "Written responses to the survey also revealed that many librarians feel scared to do their jobs. Some reported facing threats and verbal harassment at work, leading to fears of being fired or physically harmed."

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.