Redwood City Public Library 'stands against banned books'

Redwood City Public Library ‘stands against banned books’

in Community/Education

Derek Wolfgram, director of Redwood City Public Library (RCPL), said the Library “stands against banned books” in a letter that was posted in the Library’s latest newsletter.

The “act of banning books has become alarmingly prevalent across the U.S.” in recent months, Wolfgram wrote, noting that books that have been challenged and banned largely explore historically marginalized populations.

Bottom line, says Wolfgram, RCPL is not only committed to the free expression of ideas, including controversial perspectives, but also to inclusivity and equity in its materials.

His letter in full:

RCPL stands against banned books

Redwood City Public Library’s mission is centered on sharing the joy of reading and learning. In recent months, the act of banning books has become alarmingly prevalent across the United States. The books that have been challenged and banned are largely titles that explore historically marginalized populations. Censorship has no place in libraries and Redwood City Public Library welcomes all viewpoints in our collections. In fact, RCPL centers our service priorities around inclusive programs, services and books that lead to equitable outcomes for members of the highly diverse community we serve. Our readers have the right to choose what they read and we do everything to preserve this choice.

Part of the work of our RCPL CARES racial equity team in 2021 was to audit all library policies to ensure that they not only avoided inequitable approaches or discrimination, but that they proactively center the experiences of historically marginalized populations. One of the central philosophical underpinnings of any public library is its Materials Selection and Maintenance Policy, which sets parameters for what items belong in a library collection. RCPL’s recent revisions to our policy highlight our commitment to the free expression of ideas, even those which may be controversial, unorthodox or unacceptable to others. Censorship undermines the ability of individuals or communities to engage with multiple perspectives. The Library, on the other hand, celebrates the diversity of our community by providing materials and services that reflect and strengthen that diversity. 

If you too stand against censorship and the silencing of voices, and would like to learn more, we encourage you to read the American Library Association Statement on Censorship and join the United Against Book Bans campaign. Another powerful act of resistance is to read banned books. The New York Public Library recently made their downloadable Books for All collection free and it includes a small selection of commonly banned or challenged books. We have many reading lists that include banned books, including: Top Banned Books 2021, Building Tolerance, LGBTQ+ stories and anti-racism lists for all ages on our RCPL CARES page. Last but not least, we welcome community input on what we might be lacking in our collection through our purchase suggestion form.

Your Library Director,

Derek Wolfgram