Saturday, May 14, 2022


Publishers Lunch reports that book bans are making ebooks inaccessible to adults as well as children.
At least three counties have removed access to e-reading apps used by schools and libraries in a continued effort to restrict children’s access to books, NBC News reports.

In Tennessee, Texas, and Florida, a few parents have objected to digital reading platforms, including OverDrive and Epic, aiming to restrict access to books on gender, race, and LGBTQ+ themes.... These bans affect all users, not just individual students, and all titles -- removing access to entire digital collections of books for the sake of restricting a few, and in one case severely limiting ebook availability to the entire community, not just schools and children....

In Llano, TX, the public library removed access to OverDrive – and its library of 17,000 titles across genres for all ages – in December" ... The library switched to Bibliotheca, which does not work with most e-readers and apps, including most Kindle devices and apps....

"They have an affidavit about senior citizens who are now totally cut off from access to the digital books and many of them, that's their only way to use their library," [OverDrive CEO Steve Potash] said.
It's bad enough that these zealots, and the ambitious Republican politicians and media figures who enable them, are shutting down access to ebooks for all young people in some communities, because that seems to be the safest way for libraries to respond to their demands, at least until the libraries can purge all the titles that give offense:
A school superintendent in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, pulled his system’s e-reader offline for a week last month, cutting access for 40,000 students, after a parent searched the Epic library available on her kindergartner’s laptop and found books supporting LGBTQ pride.

In a rural county northwest of Austin, Texas, county officials cut off access to the OverDrive digital library, which residents had used for a decade to find books to read for pleasure, prompting a federal lawsuit against the county.

And on the east coast of Florida, the Brevard County school system removed the Epic app from its computer system, saying it didn’t want kids to have access to material its own school librarians hadn’t vetted.
But in Llano, Texas, adult access became collateral damage -- though I suppose in the future these ayatollahs will want "offending" books fully banned for all library patrons, if not forbidden altogether. Book bans in America ended only in the twentieth century. Couldn't they come back, with the offending books defined as "pornography" (which is what opponents are already calling them) and Republican judges declaring, perhaps, that the Constitution protects only political speech, or that there's nothing in the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law...") preventing states or localities from issuing bans?

Obviously, what's happening now is many steps away from the bottom of this slope, which might not be as slippery as I'm suggesting it could be. But you never know.

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