In February 2022 the Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) of the American Library Association (ALA) launched a new committee focused on preparing for and addressing bans, challenges, and other forms of censorship of comics in libraries. This committee’s focus on comics complements ALA’s broader work on challenges in the Office of Intellectual Freedom and the new Unite Against Book Bans initiative.
“Challenges to comics are not new. In fact, comics are quite often at the top of ALA’s Most Challenged Books lists, ”says GNCRT President Matthew Noe. “What is alarming, is how widespread and targeted challenges have been over the last year. ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) received an unprecedented 729 reports of challenges in 2021, representing more than 1,597 individual book challenges or removals. And while the justification for challenges varies widely, it is quite clear that books by or about queer identities and those by or about Black, Indigenous, or other People of Color are being specifically targeted. A comic – Maia Kobabe’s memoir, Gender Queer – was the most targeted book in 2021. What we’ve heard from our members is the need for our profession to be prepared with practical, actionable ways to address these mounting concerns. ”
Comics are also amongst the most popular, most lauded, and most loved items on our shelves. We can do better to support each other and our readers. As one of the newly formed Committee’s first actions, the GNCRT is launching a survey – and we want to hear from you.
Whether or not you have experienced a challenge to comics in your present or past library, the GNCRT would like to learn more about:
- your training or background in dealing with challenges
- the context around any comics challenges you have experienced
- how can we help – what resources, knowledge, talking points, and community support do you need to prepare for and address challenges to comics in your libraries?
This survey is open to ALL – educators, library workers, administrators, library students, public libraries, academic libraries, and K-12 school libraries. All of the survey information will be kept and shared anonymously unless we have the explicit permission of the respondent.
Survey Link: https://bit.ly/GNCRTchallenge-survey
Our goal is to release resources and to report on the first round of survey responses starting in June 2022 during ALA Annual. To ensure your feedback is captured in our first round of reports, please fill out the survey by May 31, 2022.
This survey is NOT a way to report a challenge occurring in real time; if you are dealing with a current challenge or ban, please contact our colleagues at the American Library Association (ALA) Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) for immediate support in real-life and to log that challenge:
Working with OIF and other library colleagues like the ALA Intellectual Freedom Round Table (IFRT), our goal with this survey and with the resources to come is to better understand the specific contexts around challenges to comics and graphic novels, and to better support comics librarianship in all its forms. This survey will be one of the first large-scale information-collection endeavors to tackle the question of comic challenges in libraries, hearing directly from a range and spectrum of library workers.
To read more about our new committee and a (short) history of comic challenges in libraries and how you can respond with pro-active collection development and advocacy, please check out our recent article in Booklist Feb 1, 2022: http://bit.ly/TradeSecretsWright
The GNCRT Preparing For & Addressing Comic Books Bans, Censorship, and Challenges in Libraries Committee is:
- Amie Wright (Chair)
- Alec Chunn
- Daniel Patton
- Gabriel Lopez
- Jack Phoenix
- Julia Lanter
- Kara Baker
- Natalie Dejonghe
- Ryan Grant
- Shawn Norton
About the Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table
The Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table (GNCRT) of the American Library Association is dedicated to supporting library staff in all aspects of engaging with graphic novels and comics, including collection development, programming, and advocacy. For more information connect with GNCRT on Facebook: ALA Graphic Novels & Comics Round Table; Twitter: @libcomix; Instagram: @libcomix; or the GNCRT ALA Connect page.
Established in 1876, the American Library Association (ALA) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.