Illinois to be first state to withhold funding from public institutions banning books


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A display of challenged or banned books in the youth services department of the Lansing Public Library. The reason why each book is being banned or challenged is attached to the book’s cover.

Illinois is set to become the first state to sign legislation that would withhold funding from public institutions that ban books. 

Gov. JB Pritzker is expected to sign House Bill 2789 after it passed in the Illinois Senate on May 3. If signed into law, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

This law will make it possible to withhold state funding from any of Illinois’ 1,600 public or school libraries if they remove books from their shelves. Currently, libraries across Illinois receive around $62 million in state funding each year, according to Giannoulias’ office. 

The bill is being heavily debated among political party members. 

Newly elected Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias has led the measure in opposition to the national movement to take away books on topics regarding sexuality, race and gender in libraries and schools across the U.S.

 The number of challenged and banned book titles increased by 40% in 2021, according to data released by the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom with a record 2,500 banned books in 2022. 

Laws that have made it easier to remove books from public institutions are more prevalent in states such as Texas, Pennsylvania and Florida, making up for 87% of the countries’ banned books, according to an April report from PEN America. 

The bill requires libraries to adopt the American Library Association’s Library of Bill Rights or create a statement supporting the bill to be eligible for state funding. It also requires libraries to develop an anti-censorship policy or statement. 

In opposition, Republican lawmakers have stated that book banning is to contain age-appropriate books, according to NPR

Republican Sen. Jason Plummer said the legislation is an example of Democrats “pushing an ideology on Illinois citizens, regardless of where they live or what they believe in,” according to POLITICO.