Trenton – Senator Andrew Zwicker and Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz have introduced legislation that would protect against the banning of books in New Jersey’s public libraries and schools.
The protections would prevent the censorship of any book for “partisan or doctrinal” reasons and would require the libraries to adopt the American Library Association’s “library bill of rights,” or a similar policy.
The Bill of Rights, which helped shape the legislation, has been described by the ALA as “unambiguous statements of basic principles that should govern the service of all libraries,” and states that all libraries should be respected as “forums for information and ideas,” and that “libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”
“This is about preventing censorship and keeping intolerance and hatred from being infused into public libraries in New Jersey,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “The fact that we are in 2023 and debating whether or not we should be banning books and ideas is just outrageous. Ideas and information are meant to be discussed and debated in a society that respects the right of free expression and values the pursuit of knowledge.”
“Our libraries are a sacred community resource, not a place for careless censorship. The materials they offer should not be restricted based on partisan views or revisionist history,” said Senate Majority Leader Ruiz (D-Essex). “Libraries often provide the foundation for children’s education and become incubators of ideas. We must protect these critical institutions which continue to be instrumental in shaping young minds.”
The bill, S-3907, would authorize the State Librarian to direct State Treasury officials to withhold funding from any public school or library that fails to comply, and would deter school boards from banning or restricting access to books or other resource materials in their school libraries.
Senate Majority Leader Ruiz, who introduced a separate but similar bill, will work with Senator Zwicker on the final legislation.