Librarians in Louisiana at odds with conservative activists working to ban books

Roby Chavez:

Well, Geoff, what we’re seeing here is that the battle over books is focused on Louisiana public libraries. And more and more librarians are finding themselves under intense scrutiny.

Law enforcement continues to be used in some situations, and the attorney general has set up a tip line asking the public to report librarians. Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is a Republican running for governor, also called for legislation to restrict what children and teens can check out in public libraries.

All of it has fueled the effort by conservative groups that are on a crusade to attack books that expose children to what they call pornographic material and diverse perspectives on race, gender and sexuality. The difference is that these groups are not just attacking books.

More and more librarians feel like they are in the crosshairs and have come under increased scrutiny for what’s on the shelves. The majority of the book challenges across Louisiana last year focused on titles for children and young adults involving sex education and books with LGBTQ themes.

Police have been called on librarians. All of it has been unsettling for librarians like Kelly LaRocca in St. Tammany Parish just outside of New Orleans. LaRocca has been a librarian for the past 17 years and has never seen anything like it. Recently, she was targeted online and singled out by conservative groups, suggesting she was using literature to groom children.

She says the criticism and more than 150 book challenges in her parish are an enormous strain on her staff.

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