Illinois becomes first state to ban book bans, protecting Library Bill of Rights

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a new law Monday allowing the state to cut off funding for local libraries that do not honor a "Library Bill of Rights."

"Illinois will become the first state in the nation to officially ban book bans once and for all," Pritzker said.

In some suburban and downstate library districts, parents and activists have targeted books aimed, in particular at LGBTQ+ adolescents, calling them too explicit.

"Tragically, our libraries have become thunderdomes of controversey and strife across our nation, the likes of which we've never seen before," said Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias.


In contrast to this new Illinois law approved by the General Assembly's Democratic super-majority, several Republican-controlled states have enacted laws requiring the at least temporary removal from library shelves of books that parents or activists object to -- in some cases, even if there's only one objector.

Republicans say it's a simple matter of parents' rights. It's certain to be a hotly-debated culture war issue next year as voters prepare to cast ballots in some states.

"While certain hypocritical governors are banning books written by LGBTQ authors, but then claiming censorship when the media fact checks them, here in Illinois we are showing the nation what it really looks like to stand up for liberty. It's as simple as that," Pritzker said.

The new law establishes the American Library Association's Bill of Rights as a model. It requires that reading materials not be removed or restricted due to, "partisan or personal disapproval."

The law does permit local library and school districts to write their own version.

Last year, there were 67 attempts to ban books in Illinois.