Nashville Public Library is giving out library cards saying “I read banned books” as they push back against Tennessee officials trying to regulate which books are taught in the state’s public schools.
The library hopes to distribute 5,000 cards this month as part of its “Freedom to Read” campaign.
“I want Nashvillians to know: Nashville Public Library will always respect your Freedom to Read — to independently determine what you read, and don’t read, and to exercise your role in determining what your children read,” the library director, Kent Oliver, said in a press release.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced this week that he plans to sign a bill allowing a politically appointed panel to remove books from public school libraries. The panel would have the ability to veto local school boards’ decisions.
The panel oversees public school libraries but not community libraries such as Nashville Public Library.
The Nashville Library lists the American Library Association’s top-25 books that are either already banned or are being challenged for potential removal on its online catalog.
The books include “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Of Mice and Men,” and all seven “Harry Potter” books.
The issue became prominent in January when the board in rural McMinn County, Tennessee, voted to remove “Maus,” Art Spielman’s graphic novel about the Holocaust, from its curriculum.
Officials in the more affluent Williamson County just outside Nashville removed “Walk Two Moons,” a book by Sharon Creech that chronicles an American Indian character searching for her mother, in February after receiving complaints from parents.
The new library card is free to residents in the county, and existing cardholders can upgrade with no additional charge.
— This article includes wire service reports.