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The Battle to Save Democracy Starts at the Local Library

As efforts to ban books in the US grow, so do attacks on libraries. There’s a reason anti-democracy extremists keep targeting these crucial civic institutions.

The Reading Public Library in Reading, Pennsylvania, in September 2020.

The Reading Public Library in Reading, Pennsylvania, in September 2020.

Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

In August, voters in Jamestown, Michigan, chose to defund the small township’s library rather than allow certain books to be read.

Like many other similar recent culture-war attacks against libraries, this one centered on the availability of LGBTQ-themed material: After the board of the Patmos Public Library refused to ban a memoir by the nonbinary writer and artist Maia Kobabe, local conservative groups launched a campaign against the library and its staff, ultimately leading to the defeat of a property tax measure that the library depends on for most of its funding. While donations in support have poured in from around the world, the library may be forced to shut its doors next year.