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Library group's ‘intellectual freedom’ director tells libraries how to censor Christian story hours

ALA’s Library Bill of Rights states meeting rooms for such events should be provided to the public "regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use."

Published: June 27, 2023 11:29pm

Updated: July 1, 2023 9:44pm

The American Library Association is offering guidance to public libraries on how to prevent events like an upcoming one by leading Christian children's book publisher and marquee author Kirk Cameron, arguing they're an attempt to "censor" or "silence" LGBTQIA library-users and their materials.

The guidance came from Deborah Caldwell-Stone, the association's director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom, during a virtual library conference earlier this month.

She said events like Cameron and BRAVE Book's "See You at the Library" on Aug. 5 are attempts to "exploit the open nature of a public library to advance their agendas" and to "censor LGBTQIA materials or disparage or silence LGBTQIA library users."

BRAVE described the event as an "alternative" to drag queen story hours.

Caldwell-Stone said the event is part of a campaign to "take over libraries," and suggested using policies and procedures to "keep control" of the facilities, arguing the First Amendment "does not require the library to even offer the meeting room spaces."

She also said: "So... in regard to the Kirk Cameron thing, you are not obligated to offer public meeting room spaces."

Caldwell-Stone suggested libraries could hold library-sponsored programs the day of the event or limit access to meeting rooms by making them available only to those who are eligible to hold a library card.

The ALA's Library Bill of Rights states that libraries should provide meeting rooms to the public "regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use."

It also says that reading materials "should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation," nor should they be removed over "partisan or doctrinal disapproval."

Just The News contacted ALA for comment but didn't receive one before this story was published.

BRAVE Books posted Caldwell-Stone’s comments in a Twitter thread, and in it said the ALA "benefits from your tax dollars but is trying to violate your free speech rights."

The publisher’s founder, Trent Talbot, told Just The News the demand for the event continues to grow, despite opposition.

"The ALA can make whatever plans they want to silence the Christian, conservative voices that have cried out by the thousands at past story hours, but once you put parents into motion, it’s impossible to stop them," he said.

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