Bigger Than Football: Library Systems “Tackle Censorship”

Wednesday, February 7, 2024
football field with lights and text

The Kansas City Chiefs prepare to take the field on Sunday, February 11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, in yet another Super Bowl. It’s the Chiefs’ sixth Super Bowl – their fourth appearance in five years – and they’ll face the San Francisco 49ers.

The Kansas City Public Library will be celebrating the game — and the freedom to read — by teaming up with the San Francisco Public Library to tackle censorship.

“We are excited to come together with the San Francisco Public Library to highlight this critical issue,” says Carrie Coogan, the deputy director for public affairs and community engagement at the Kansas City Public Library.

Attempted book bans continue to rise in the United States. In 2022, the American Library Association (ALA) recorded 1,269 attempts, the highest number in more than 20 years. Public libraries accounted for 48 percent of the challenges.

In addition to book bans, libraries also face challenges to displays, exhibitions, programming, and more. Even as these attempts are rising in frequency, most of the public opposes book bans: Unite Against Book Bans shares that 71 percent of voters are against removing books from public libraries.

“In San Francisco, only our passionate commitment to intellectual freedom and combating censorship surpasses our love for the 49ers!” says City Librarian Michael Lambert. “San Francisco Public Library’s mission is to connect our diverse communities to learning, conversations, and ideas, while serving as an affirming space for all. This collaboration with Kansas City Public Library allows us to celebrate our collective dedication to ensuring that every member of our community can read freely.”

The two library systems have made a friendly wager on the performance of their city’s teams as well. A library representative in the city whose team loses the Super Bowl will sport the winning city’s gear and read a banned book in a recording that will be shared on social media.

Coogan added, “And with a coach whose last name shows the importance of Reid-ing, how could we lose?”

The Tackle Censorship campaign launched during the 2023 Super Bowl when the Kansas City Public Library and Free Library of Philadelphia joined forces to spotlight this attack on one of our nation’s most important rights.

Even though the football teams must and will be against each other in the big game, the libraries in each of their cities are united in battling book bans. The stakes could not be higher in protecting the right to read. For more information on censorship, visit