Colorado Librarian Fired for Taking a Stand, Awarded $250,000 in Censorship Case
In Colorado, a notable legal case has come to a close, revolving around the dismissal of a librarian, Brooky Parks, and her subsequent legal actions.
This case highlights broader issues faced by librarians across the country, as they navigate challenges related to book censorship and freedom of speech.
Growing Pressure on Librarians Nationwide
Over recent years, the American Library Association (ALA) has observed an increasing trend of librarians facing job-related threats due to their stance on book censorship.
The organization’s Office of Intellectual Freedom recorded a significant increase in such incidents, from zero reports in 2019 to 31 reports in the current year.
Parks' Efforts to Promote Inclusive Events
Brooky Parks was known for organizing library events for teenagers, addressing sensitive topics such as racism and identity.
These events were met with resistance, attempts were made to cancel them, and Parks opposed these efforts, leading to her dismissal from the High Plains Public Library District.
Parks Wins Settlement After Lawsuit
After a rigorous legal battle, Brooky Parks secured a $250,000 settlement from the High Plains Public Library District.
As part of the case’s resolution, the district was directed to implement policies that ensure diverse community perspectives are considered when choosing library events.
Increasing Incidents of Book Bans
The ALA has documented a rise in book bans across the U.S.
Established works from authors like George Orwell, Toni Morrison, and many others are now among the frequently banned books in libraries.
Threats Against Librarians
The challenges librarians face are not limited to book bans. Many experience intimidation, including online doxxing, and even threats to their lives.
Deborah Caldwell-Stone, from ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom, confirms the occurrence of these severe threats against librarians.
Another Librarian's Encounter with Censorship
Terri Lesley, another librarian, faced scrutiny after refusing to remove books on certain themes.
Following her refusal, she was confronted with multiple accusations and threats, leading to her dismissal from the Campbell County Public Library System, where she had served for nearly three decades.
Communities Rallying Behind Affected Librarians
While librarians face challenges, many communities across the U.S. are showing their support.
Their efforts range from attending board meetings to actively voicing against censorship, providing solace to those affected like Terri Lesley, who acknowledges the significant impact of this community backing.
Legal Challenges to Censorship Across the U.S.
Several states, including Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, are witnessing legal actions from librarians and communities, pushing back against restrictive laws and decisions.
These legal endeavors aim to protect First Amendment rights and counter efforts to suppress free speech.
Brooky Parks' Return to the Library World
Following her lawsuit, Brooky Parks has rejoined the library community, now working with the University of Denver.
In addition to her professional comeback, Parks has been recognized with the 2023 Julie Boucher Memorial Award for Intellectual Freedom.
A Call for Solidarity Among Librarians
Brooky Parks emphasizes the importance of collective action against book bans.
She believes that a united stand against censorship can make a significant impact, stressing the notion that many people do not support the banning of books.
Ongoing Efforts to Protect Free Speech
The case of Brooky Parks and others like her underscores the ongoing efforts to protect freedom of speech in libraries across the U.S.
While challenges persist, the commitment of librarians and supportive communities offers hope for the future of free and inclusive expression in the literary world.