Home Princeton Packet Princeton Packet News

Princeton officials declare town as book sanctuary

The Princeton Council and the Princeton Public Library Board of Trustees have declared the town and its public library to be book sanctuaries – a place where books are not banned.

The Princeton Council approved a resolution at its April 8 meeting declaring the town as a book sanctuary. The library board of trustees approved a resolution last month designating the library itself as a book sanctuary.

The resolution approved by the Princeton Council was timed to coincide with National Library Week, which is April 7-13. Also, April 8 was “Right to Read Day.”

The move to declare the town and the library as book sanctuaries was made in response to the growing movement to ban selected books.

More than 4,200 book titles were targeted for removal, along with more than 1,200 demands to censor library books, materials and resources in 2023, according to the American Library Association (ALA).

Nearly half of those books were written by – or were about – LGBTQ+ persons, people of color and people from marginalized backgrounds, the ALA said.

Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, who set the stage for the Princeton Council resolution, pointed to April 8 as “Right to Read Day.”

“It was appropriate for the town to mark the day by becoming a book sanctuary and taking a stand against book banning and censorship,” Niedergang said. “The town is firmly in favor of allowing everyone to determine what they – and their minor children – can read.

“The freedom to read is a fundamental American right, and it is the First Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution) put into practice. A book sanctuary upholds that First Amendment right.”

Book challenges must follow a specific, formalized procedure, as is done in the Princeton Public Library, she said. The librarians are equipped to decide which books should be placed on the library shelves.

“We can all acknowledge that not every published book deserves a place in every library, but acquisition decisions should continue to be made by professionals in this field,” Niedergang said.

The Princeton Council’s resolution states that no book shall be banned, endangered books shall be protected and all types of books shall be made accessible to all without regard to their content.

The resolution recommends that residents borrow and read challenged books that are available at the Princeton Public Library. Also, residents should host or join in-person or virtual books clubs to encourage discussion of banned books and censored stories.

The Princeton Public Library Board of Trustees’ resolution states that it is united against book bans and that it embraces the freedom to read as a cornerstone of democracy.

“We proudly establish our library as a sanctuary for reading,” the resolution said.

The library’s programming and collections will embrace, include and celebrate a full spectrum of human experience, according to the resolution.

Individuals should be trusted to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, nor should anyone make decisions for others about what they read, the resolution stated.

Princeton Councilman David Cohen emphasized the importance of the resolutions against book banning.

“It’s not just important for causes that are near and dear to our liberal hearts in Princeton, but it’s also important that conservative voices also can be respected in our libraries,” he said.

“There is perhaps more of a risk in Princeton that sometimes those voices would be suppressed, so it is good that the issue is being framed in a way that protects all points of view.”

Exit mobile version