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Austin Public Library Starts Banned-Book Social Network for Teens

Austin Public Library Banned Book Club

Austin (Texas) Public Library (APL) and the Library Foundation, a group that supports APL by increasing awareness about the library and its importance to the community, have launched a social network to help teens keep access to banned books.

The "Save The Books Social Network" brings together teens who are passionate about fighting for the freedom to read and want to see themselves represented in books at the library.

Kathleen Houlihan, a librarian at APL's Teen Central, told KVUE's Eric Pointer that the club gives teens agency and a voice when their books are taken away.

"Teens are the ones who are being directly impacted by book bans," Houlihan said. "So that's why it's important for them to be at the table, leading the table."

The network meets once a month, virtually, and provides teens with a place to share their experiences fighting censorship and to also hear from guest authors and speakers.

"When you hear from other teens who actually made progress and made a change in their community, it takes you from a place of being powerless to a place where you feel like you do have a voice," Houlihan said.

The Library Foundation is providing funding for the network and to hire teens for leadership positions. The network is also supported by the Children's Defense Fund, BookPeople, Students Engaged in Advancing Texas, and other organizations.

"The freedom to read is very important issue to the Library Foundation," said Library Foundation Executive Director Tim Staley. "So we have committed funds to supporting programming that engage teens in this issue of book banning and the freedom to read, because we feel like, it impacts teens. So this program in particular is, particularly powerful."

Watch KVUE’s coverage of “Save the Books Social Network” below:

Take action

Alarmed by the escalating attempts to censor books? Here are five steps you can take now to protect the freedom to read.

  1. Follow news and social media in your community and state to keep apprised of organizations working to censor library or school materials.
    2. Show up for library workers at school or library board meetings and speak as a library advocate and community stakeholder who supports a parent’s right to restrict reading materials for their own child but not for all
    3. Help provide a safety net for library professionals as they defend intellectual freedom in their communities by giving to the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund.
    4. Educate friends, neighbors, and family members about censorship and how it harms communities. Share information from Banned Books Week.
    5. Join the Unite Against Book Bans movement and visit our Fight Censorship page to learn what you can do to defend the freedom to read in your community.

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Photo: KVUE

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