Study: Parents Trust Librarians Despite National Push to Ban Books

During the 2022–23 school year, book bans occurred in 153 districts across 33 states.

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Parents have a high level of trust in librarians despite a national onslaught of book bans and censorship efforts by conservative groups, a recent survey by EveryLibrary Institute and Book Riot found.

The authors of “Parent Perceptions of Librarianship 2023” found that despite concerted efforts to keep books about America’s racist past and LGBTQ issues out of the hands of children, families across diverse backgrounds and income levels trust public and school librarians. The families value librarians’ expertise in fostering safe and engaging learning environments that support learning and creativity.

PEN America, a free speech organization, reported finding 3,362 cases of book bans in the 2022-23 school year. North Carolina is among the national censorship leaders with 58 reported book bans from July 2022 to June 2023. More books have been banned by school districts since the start of the school year.

John Chrastka, EveryLibrary Institute’s executive director, said the survey shows that politically motivated book banning, and censorship groups are out of touch with most parents and guardians.

“Contrary to the narratives that so-called parent rights groups are advancing, parents across America value librarians’ roles in our communities and our children’s education,” Chrastka said. “Pro-censorship groups do not represent the vast majority of parents or guardians in their beliefs about librarians, reading, education, and civil society.”

EveryLibrary Institute is a library think thank and professional network that is focused on improving and supporting the future of library funding in the United States and abroad. Book Riot is North America’s largest independent editorial book site.

Kelly Jensen, an editor at Book Riot, said the survey is informative and provides welcome insight into parental perceptions about libraries.

“This series of surveys further our knowledge on what libraries are doing right and allows us to see where and how we can advocate for better understanding the roles libraries play in the lives of the average person,” Jensen said. “We continue to be thrilled to see the vast majority of parents think that the public library is a safe place for their children.”

EveryLibrary Institute and Book Riot researchers surveyed 1,527 parents and guardians with children under 18 in two surveys during October and November 2023.

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at what parents and guardians told researchers about public libraries:

92 – Percentage of parents, grandparents and guardians who said they trust librarians to curate appropriate books and materials

90 – Percentage who report being comfortable allowing their child to select their own materials

96 – Percentage who said they feel their children are safe within the library

83 – Percentage who agree librarians know what books children love

35 – Percentage who think public librarians have a political agenda, and believe they should

9 – Percentage who do not believe librarians have a political agenda, but think they should

44 – Percentage who don’t think librarians have a political agenda, and should not

85 – Percentage who report being satisfied or very satisfied with librarians.

NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: info@ncnewsline.com. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.

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