Politics and school libraries: What shapes students’ access to controversial content
BROOKINGS – School libraries have become a key battleground in contemporary culture wars over public education. In the 2021-22 school year, PEN America reported a record-setting 2,532 book challenges affecting 1,648 different titles in 138 school districts. Many of the challenged titles contain content related to LGBTQ+ issues or race/racism, topics that have also been the concern of state legislative efforts.
Kristen Slungaard Mumma, a postdoctoral fellow at Boston University Wheelock Educational Policy Center, assembled data on hundreds of titles in public school libraries across the country. In her research, she points to trends and themes related to the collections based on various characteristics, including for instance differences across high and low-income schools and the political leanings of surrounding areas.