CFP: Theme Issue on Book Banning and Book Challenges – Young Adult Library Services (YALS) Journal
Call for articles on the theme of book banning and challenges for the Spring/Summer issue of the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association, Young Adult Library Services (YALS).
Over the last few years, newspapers, ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, and librarians across the country have seen a steep increase in book bannings and challenges in both public and school libraries. It has become increasingly politicized, using social media to spread through both large and small groups and communities.
In 2022, according to the American Library Association, there were 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources, the highest number ever recorded in the more than 20 years that the ALA has compiled statistics. A record 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color, and many also targeted more than one book. Of the reported book challenges, 58% targeted books and materials in school libraries, classroom libraries or school curricula; 41% of book challenges targeted materials in public libraries. Of the overall number of books challenged, 90% were part of attempts to censor multiple titles, and 40% were in cases involving 100 or more books. Prior to 2021, the vast majority of challenges to library resources only sought to remove or restrict access to a single book.
Has your library had any recent book challenges?
If so, who were the individuals or groups that made the complaint, i.e., individual parents, social media groups, local formal or informal organizations, local/state/national organized groups? What was the result of the complaint?
How has the staff of your library been impacted by the increased number of challenges and bannings? This could include, but not be limited to, increased stress both on and off the job, quitting work at the library, changing to other careers.
Does your library provide training for library staff on what to do in a challenge situation? If so, what topics does it include?
How do your librarians help create your library as a safe space for teens? How do they get this information out to teens?
Does your library offer programming for teens on how to combat book challenges and bannings? Are there displays about the importance of reading/viewing banned and challenged books and other media? Does your library have displays on challenged/banned titles during the entire calendar year, or just for BBW?
How have the teens in your library spoken up on the topics of book challenges and bannings? What have they said, what have they done, and what has the result been?
Since most of the book challenges have been about books written by the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color, how has your library focused on these two groups when adding their titles to your teen collection?
How does the library staff prepare for meeting materials challenges when new titles that are likely to be challenged are added to the teen collection? (a challenge file with supportive information on these titles? Interviews with authors defending their books, and explaining why they wrote them? Other methods?)
Have the selectors for your teen collection ever decided not to buy a book or other material because it was likely to be challenged or banned? How frequently does this happen? In other words, are any of your book selectors self-censors? What kind of training have your selectors had concerning purchasing titles that are likely to be controversial or to be challenged?
Are there politically oriented groups in your community or region that are actively promoting a conservative agenda about materials in library collections? Are there active groups that support libraries, their staff, and their collections?
What is most important to you, and why, concerning book challenges and bannings? What is your reaction to recent legislation and local attempts to prevent teachers from having classroom libraries, harassment of school and public librarians who want to have diverse and inclusive teen collections, and the librarians who are leaving the profession because the stress of doing their jobs is too great?
Book banning is nothing new, and is becoming more widespread through social media and through politically oriented groups. This is one of the most important issues facing our profession, and our collections for teens are among the most vulnerable, in both school and public libraries. Please speak up, and add your experiences and your beliefs about this serious situation to the Spring/Summer 2022 issue of YALS (Young Adult Library Services)
Please note that this is a volunteer writing opportunity with no monetary compensation. YALSA has the right to first refusal.
If you have an article idea for this themed issue, please submit article proposals by May 1, 2023.
If you know someone who has experience on this topic and would be interested in writing for YALS or have questions, please contact YALS’ editor, Joni Richards Bodart at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. While the journal’s main focus is on teen literature, and programming and services for teens, articles from those dealing with the issue of challenges to materials in different professions.