WHEREAS, the freedom to read is a human right, constitutionally protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, and individuals have the right to free inquiry and the equally important right to form their own opinions; and

     WHEREAS, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that ‘‘everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’’; and

     WHEREAS, books do not require readers to agree with topics or themes but instead allow readers to explore and engage with differing perspectives to form and inform their own views; and

     WHEREAS, over the last several years, there has been a significant increase in censorship activities in the United States resulting in books being removed from library shelves and schools; and

     WHEREAS, book bans often seek to impose restrictions on students and families based on the political, ideological, or cultural preferences of the individuals calling for book bans; and

     WHEREAS, book bans have multifaceted, harmful consequences on—

(A) students who have a right to access a diverse range of stories and

(B) students from historically marginalized backgrounds, whose communities are
often underrepresented in literature;

(C) educators and librarians who are operating in some states in an increasingly
punitive and surveillance-oriented environment, which has a chilling effect on
teaching and learning;

(D) the authors whose works are being targeted; and

(E) parents who want to raise children who can attend schools and use libraries,
which remain open to and encourage curiosity, discovery, and the freedom to
read; and

     WHEREAS, classic and award-winning literature and books, which have been part of school curricula for decades, have been challenged, removed from libraries pending review, or outright banned from schools; and

     WHEREAS, books, particularly those written by and about outsiders, newcomers, and people from marginalized backgrounds, are facing a heightened risk of being banned; and

     WHEREAS, numerous books referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and more (“LGBTQ+”) themes or with LGBTQ+ characters have been banned in the United States this year, including children’s books, which recognize the equal humanity and dignity of all persons, despite our differences; and

     WHEREAS, numerous books, both fiction and nonfiction, with protagonists of color or prominent secondary characters of color have been banned in some states in the United States, particularly in recent years; and

     WHEREAS, numerous bills have been introduced in states across the country that would restrict books and curricula on race and gender in schools; and

     WHEREAS, the Hoboken Library Board of Trustees declare their opposition to the banning of books in any form; and

     WHEREAS, the Hoboken Public Library previously adopted the Library Bill of Rights and supports the freedom to read, including the adoption of the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement; and

     WHEREAS, the Hoboken Public Library has a materials selection process that is fair, deliberative, equitable, and accessible to the public, as set forth in its “Collection Development Policy” adopted by the Library Board of Trustees on November 24, 2020.

     NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the President and the Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees as follows:

● Adoption of American Library Association’s Freedom to Read Statement – The Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees supports and adopts the American Library Association’s “Freedom to Read Statement,” attached hereto and incorporated by reference into this Resolution; and

● Book Sanctuary Declaration – The Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees declares that the Hoboken Public Library is a book sanctuary. As a book sanctuary, the Library shall be a place where: (1) people can borrow and read challenged books; (2) endangered books are accessible to everyone; (3) we hostbook talks, story times, and other events about banned and challenged books; and (4) people can be educated about the history of book banning and burning.

● Book Sanctuary Actions – The Hoboken Public Library calls upon community members to do the following: (1) host and join in-person or virtual banned book clubs and encourage critical discussion of censored stories, starting with Black, Indigenous, People of Color (“BIPOC”) and LGBTQ+ stories that are most often challenged; (2) collect and protect endangered books; (3) lend endangered books to friends and neighbors; (4) use local Little Free Libraries as book sanctuaries, adding endangered books as a way to support the freedom to read;  (5) host storytimes with inclusive characters that reflect the diversity of our world; and (6) amplify individual voices on social media with #TheBookSanctuary.

Date: August 22, 2023

Jerome Abernathy, President, Board of Trustees

I certify that the above Resolution 23-04 was approved by the Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees at a regular public meeting held on August 22, 2023.

Clark Matthews, Recording Secretary