News - MLA
Written by Deborah E. Mikula, MLA Executive Director   

Letter From Debbie

September 23, 2022

Debbie Mikula headshotThere is work ahead of us. When dealing with censorship, we must put in the time, energy and resources to address the growing challenges in our state. You can expect the vocal minority to show up at a library or school near you if they haven’t already.

This past week, we were heartened to read a national public opinion poll conducted by the nonpartisan research firm Embold Research on behalf of EveryLibrary showing that 75% of Americans oppose book banning and are willing to consider book banning when going to the polls this November. Just 8% of voters believe “there are many books that are inappropriate and should be banned.” These statistics indicate that the actions of a small, vocal minority are giving the impression that our schools and libraries are full of offensive materials, which is simply not the case.

We know that all politics are local. From our perspective, we have found that the greatest need in addressing local politics are for those in your own local community to step up and speak out.  We need you to put your time and energy, as citizens of your community, to help bring people together to form local coalitions to address local challenges as they are each unique and different from your neighboring community. 

 The only word that is really important right now isn’t about that we “may” do something, this isn’t about we “can” do something, this is about “MUST.” We MUST do something.

  • We MUST not try to tackle this alone

  • We MUST rally the troops by identifying our base of support and we MUST encourage them to show up every day by picking up the phone and calling in reinforcements when needed.

  • We MUST outnumber the opposition and own the conversation

  • We MUST be present at school and library board meetings...if you don't show up, you lose

  • We MUST continue to speak out and speak loudly

  • We MUST make the “readers the leaders” – their voices and experiences will win the day

  • We MUST encourage student-led groups, retired teachers and others to get involved and speak out against censorship

  • We MUST partner and build networks with other local groups with similar values, wants and needs to advocate for increased equity and to support diverse collections

  • We MUST communicate our positive and proactive message and share factual information on social media to counter the negative rhetoric

  • We MUST monitor social media (but we don’t always have to respond)

  • We MUST plan, organize and share ideas with others

  • We MUST educate and share talking points with our patrons and others about the processes and protocols of speaking up at library and school board meetings

  • We MUST research the views and values of candidates for our school and library boards

  • We MUST vote for those that will protect the right to read

  • We MUST celebrate successes

  • We MUST be relentless

  • We MUST not give up

  • We MUST be persistent

From our perspective, these challenges will not go away by themselves and we do not expect censorship to disappear overnight. While the mid-term election is looming, we can just about guarantee that this will be with us for the next few years. We MUST always have hope.

Deborah E. Mikula
Executive Director

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