Hard, hard to be a librarian in the United States

If Jason Kuhl has learned one thing since graduating from library science twenty-three years ago, it’s that the reality of the job rarely overlaps with fantasy. “When you say you’re a librarian, people think you spend your day reading and recommending books,” he says. As the head of the Saint Charles County Library in Missouri, he actually spends most of his time on administrative tasks and working on long-term management. In its library, there are quilt courses, seminars on mental health and even reading aloud sessions for dogs.

“A culture of fear”

This summer, Jason Kuhl had plans with colleagues to launch a bookmobile that would travel through several sites in the city, including three schools. And then at the end of August came into force a law providing for prosecution in the event of the provision of shocking content in schools – It was therefore decided that the bookmobile would not go to meet schoolchildren.

“It is a brand new law whose effects we have not yet been able to experience, underlines the librarian, visibly shaken. The game was not worth the candle.”

It all started with Bill 775, proposed to the local Senate to fight against the trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. The idea to use this text against the books came from Republican Rick Brattin, a member of the Missouri Senate and an anti-gay rights activist.

Asked to give examples of content “obscene”, Senator Brattin’s team quotes Blue doesn’t suit all boys [De Saxus, 2021]a critically acclaimed book, where the author, George M. Johnson, tells the story of his childhood and adolescence as a young black queer in Virginia and New Jersey, or even Fun Home [Denoël Graphic, 2006], Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel about her and her father’s homosexuality. The new law, with its nebulous wording, makes any offender liable to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

“We don’t know what will be construed as sexually offensive content.laments Kuhl. Let’s be clear, it feels like a big step back. We are in a culture of fear.”

Unprecedented censorship in the United States

Collectives of conservative parents, born in opposition to the mask during the Covid-19 pandemic and quickly reconverted in the fight against the “critical theory of race”, are now sifting through books, in particular those written by queer and black authors, to demand their removal from library shelves. Surfing on this movement, political figures imagine laws which, under the guise of protecting children against indoctrination and predation, attack

Leave a Comment