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Fontichiaro: Banning books and defunding public libraries indicates an unhealthy democracy

"Quoted by WCMU Public Radio, Clinical Professor Kristin Fontichiaro, 'They called the sheriff': Libraries under threat from parents for diverse book collections." Headshot of Kristin Fontichiaro. t

Monday, 09/12/2022

Michigan public libraries have been under attack. Librarians are fending off everything from funding cuts to angry patrons harassing staff about Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ book displays. 

Kristin Fontichiaro, clinical professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, says individual opinions about books shouldn’t influence public library collections. She warns that, “any time we see book banning, it’s a sign of a less than healthy democracy.” 

WCMU, an NPR affilate at Central Michigan University, spoke to Fontichiaro about reports that some patrons claim certain books are “pornographic” or against family values and call for their removal. “Controversies around inclusive library catalogs could point towards some dangerous signs.”

Instead of banning and defunding public information institutions, Fontichiaro said, “we respect your ability to make your own choices for what you read in the privacy of your own home."

"Where the line gets drawn is assuming that everyone needs access to the same canon of materials,” she said. “We don’t want policies that say only certain perspectives are okay to have in this library.”

Read more about Fontichiaro’s research at UMSI.