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May 7, 2024

Bill to Protect Colorado Libraries From Book Bans Passes House

DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation to address the rise in attempts to ban certain books from Colorado libraries. SB24-216, sponsored by Representatives Junie Joseph and Eliza Hamrick, would ensure library resources would not be removed from public libraries unless in accordance with the library board’s policy, and establishes safeguards for such policies. 

“As more states across the nation move to ban books, we have to protect free speech and ensure Coloradans have access to information from a variety of sources and diverse perspectives,” said Rep. Junie Joseph, D-Boulder. “Each and every community deserves to be represented in public spaces like libraries, and this bill protects our fundamental freedom to read and demonstrates our commitment to protecting our neighbors.” 

“Books offer a diverse perspective from many voices, and banning certain books would limit Coloradans’ ability to read and research a variety of topics,” said Rep. Eliza Hamrick, D-Centennial. “This bill protects our community members, upholds our freedoms and ensures that books remain accessible to all.” 

SB24-216, passed the House by a vote of 43 to 18 and would require libraries to establish written policies for the acquisition, retention, and display of library sources, as well as their removal upon the request of a patron. Libraries would not be allowed to remove content based on the demographics of the author or based on partisan disapproval of the topic. According to the American Library Association, Colorado experienced a 143 percent increase in book ban attempts in 2023.

Under this bill, libraries may only remove materials based on the policies their board adopts, and librarians would be protected from retaliation, discrimination, or termination for refusal to remove any resource if such a removal is not in accordance with the board’s policy. 

Additionally under this bill, a person who requests that any material be removed must live within the service area of the library, and their requests would be public under the Colorado Open Records Act. For example, if a person requests a book be removed from a Jefferson County Public Library, they must reside within Jefferson County for the request to be considered.

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