NJLA Statement in Support of the Freedom to Read

NJLA Statement in Support of the Freedom to Read
Approval by the NJLA Executive Board
February 20, 2024

The New Jersey Library Association (NJLA) reaffirms its Statement Against Censorship, approved by the NJLA Executive Board on December 21, 2021, and supports S2421, the New Jersey Freedom to Read bill. This bill ensures that every New Jersey resident will continue to have the freedom to read for education and entertainment. This freedom is supported by the Bill of Rights, decades of precedent, and the robust libraries that serve K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and New Jersey communities. NJLA will continue to work with the bill’s sponsors to ensure that it meets its goal of ensuring that every New Jersey resident enjoys the fundamental American right to access books and other information. 

The last time we needed these kinds of First Amendment protections was during McCarthyism and the last throes of Jim Crow laws. We have spent 60 years unified in our rejection of censorship, trusting trained and certified library professionals to curate collections that meet community members’ needs. Library staff emphasize access and transparency: we work with publishers, book reviewers, and other professionals to identify credible, high-quality work that meets the broad range of community members’ interests. We want everyone in the community to have the autonomy to choose what they read, and we appreciate that S2421 respects New Jersey’s established support for home rule in reviewing requests for reconsidering collection decisions.

This bill rejects attempts by a small minority who do not represent us, many from outside New Jersey, who are harassing and bullying library staff across the country. This bill makes it clear that New Jersey believes in freedom, not censorship.