June 28, 2023
In September 2022, the Chicago Public Library declared itself a “sanctuary for endangered stories,” i.e., dedicated to establishing “Book Sanctuaries.” Following Chicago’s lead, in January 2023, Stamford, Connecticut became the state’s first sanctuary library. Surely, these developments in Chicago and Stamford are good news. But their very existence is also evidence of the dire our circumstances truly are – we live in a time where censorship is so rampant that cities must consider whether and how to protect our rights to access information.
Now, Connecticut is considering Senate Bill 2, wide-ranging legislation called the Act Concerning the Mental, Physical, and Emotional Wellness of Children. S.B. 2 in part aims to create similar sanctuary libraries across the state. S.B. 2 would allow communities throughout Connecticut to “designate a public library as a sanctuary library, wherein books which have been banned, challenged, or censored will be readily available to anyone who would like to borrow them.” Under S.B. 2, if a library becomes a sanctuary library, it will receive a small grant.
As Kelly Jensen puts it, Connecticut “legislators find access to information so vital that it belongs under the state’s child wellness bill.” We at the Woodhull Freedom Foundation agree. We have a right to learn about ourselves and the world around us; S.B. 2 and similar sanctuary library measures serve to protect that right. We believe that everyone deserves free access to information, including access to materials about race, gender, and sexuality, which are increasingly under attack.