Ten Stories That Shaped 2023

It’s time yet again to take a look back at the memorable library stories from the past year.

Two themes dominated headlines in 2023: attacks on libraries; and the rising implications of generative artificial intelligence.

10. Misplaced Classified Documents

Fallout over politicians from both parties mishandling documents continued to make news early in the year.

9. Attacks on Librarians – Kirk Cameron

In a peculiar bid to paint himself the victim of library policies, Kirk Cameron staged conflicts over his right-wing children’s books and related library events.

8. Generative AI – Audio Books and Music

Continue reading…

How librarians, kids and the country are paying for the ongoing rancor : NPR

It’s been a year since the start of what one librarian here calls "The Troubles." That's when once-boring meetings of the Livingston Parish Library Board of Control started devolving into bitter brawls over books that some consider to be too sexual and harmful to kids. Meetings have been laced with insults, interruptions and the kind of profanity that would probably get you kicked out of the library.

The plot thickens: The battle over books comes at a cost

John Green book pulled from young adult shelf at Hamilton East library

Author John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" has joined hundreds of books that are no longer on Hamilton East Public Library's teen shelves thanks to a new policy that targets books deemed not "age appropriate."

Green, who lives nearby in Indianapolis, took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to respond to HEPL's policy and decision, saying moving the book is an embarrassment for the city of Fishers.

John Green book pulled from young adult shelf at Hamilton East library

Michigan Library Association begins campaign to combat book banning

The Michigan Library Association is starting a new campaign to rally against book banning.

MI Right to Read is a six-month campaign designed to build a coalition of people in support of libraries. It comes at a time when people nationwide are calling for the removal of books that deal with themes of sexual orientation and gender identity.

"What we saw in the last couple of years is a more coordinated effort by outside groups to ban certain types of materials," said MLA President Scott Duimstra.

Florida teacher fired over viral video of empty library shelves after DeSantis branded it a “fake narrative”

Florida teacher fired over viral video of empty library shelves after DeSantis branded it a “fake narrative”
Teachers and librarians have shared images of empty bookshelves following a directive from Duval County Public Schools



Ten Stories That Shaped 2021

How time flies! Once again we look back at the memorable events of the past year.

10. More Libraries End Late Fines

Libraries continue to make headlines for discontinuing the assessment of financial penalties for returning books late. Not only does this practice help get overdue books returned, it promotes equitable access to library collections.

9. Cape Town Library Damaged by Fire

In April, a fire partially destroyed the main library at the University of Cape Town. Recovery efforts are still underway.

8. Taylor Swift…?

Not one but two copyright stories this year involved Taylor Swift: the dubious practice of the police playing her songs to avoid being live streamed, and the musician having to re-record her hits in order to regain ownership of them.

The Lighter Side: "Library Rap" Raises Eyebrows

All I can say about this story is to watch the video yourself, if you can get through it.

7. University of California Re-Ups with Elsevier

After a long standoff over pricing and author rights, the University of California agreed to again subscribe to the for-profit publisher’s titles.

6. Supply Chain Issues in Publishing

Shipping delays and understaffing hit many economic sectors this year, and the books trade was no exception.

5. "Illegal Aliens" LCSH Retired

After over a decade of controversy, the Library of Congress approved a change to their "Illegal Aliens" subject heading in November, replacing it with the terms "Noncitizens" and "Illegal Immigration," prompting an outcry from Senator Ted Cruz.

Dishonorable Mention: NFTs

Librarians are all too familiar with the contrived scarcity imposed on electronic formats by commercial interests. This year, the hype train that is non-fungible tokens reached fever pitch, causing concerns over their environmental impact.

4. Controlled Digital Lending

Whither libraries in the Internet Age? One answer is the use of metered circulation mechanisms that allow for libraries to "lend" electronic copies of materials. Commercial publishers, unsurprisingly, would prefer to set their own prices.

3. Cancel/Consequence Culture

The publishing industry has always had its fair share of scandals. This year’s controversies involved Josh Hawley, Doctor Seuss, Alex Gino, Alice Sebold, Captain Underpants, and Phillip Roth.

2. Covid Exacerbated by Misinformation

Ahmed Baba describes the situation perfectly: "It’s important to directly state that Republicans and right-wing media have spent this year blatantly sabotaging Biden’s COVID response while simultaneously criticizing him for not getting COVID totally under control. It’s a deliberate strategy and it’s unfortunately working."

1. Book Banning Intensifies

This perennial entry takes the top spot this year due to the drastic rise (or "dramatic uptick," to quote the ALA) in challenges led by conservatives to library books.

What was your favorite library story of 2021?