Jun 12, 2023
Illinois became the first state in the United States to pass legislation to end book bans.
Introduced by Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias, who serves at the State Librarian, the bill received significant support both in the House and Senate. The signing by Pritzker is no surprise, but it is a welcome one and makes Illinois a leader in addressing the ongoing rise of book bans.
“Here in Illinois, we don’t hide from the truth, we embrace it,” said Governor JB Pritzker in a press release. “Young people shouldn’t be kept from learning about the realities of our world; I want them to become critical thinkers, exposed to ideas that they disagree with, proud of what our nation has overcome, and thoughtful about what comes next. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in the books they read, the art they see, the history they learn. In Illinois, we are showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty.”
HB 2789 is unique in that it ties state funding for libraries to a written library bill of rights. This could come in the form of ALA’s already-established guidelines or come through what may be developed in a collaboration between State Librarian and State Library.
“I initiated this legislation to stand up and fight for libraries, librarians, and the freedom of speech – especially at this perilous time for our democracy,” said Giannoulias. “The concept of banning books contradicts the very essence of what our country stands for. It also defies what education is all about: teaching our children to think for themselves. This landmark legislation is a triumph for our democracy, a win for First Amendment Rights, and a great victory for future generations.”