Book challenges and bans leveled on children’s and YA materials in school and public libraries have been in the headlines for a couple of years now, part of a news cycle fueled by the heat of the politically motivated culture war gripping our country. The spotlight on this issue burned especially hot in April when the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom released its annual list of the top 10 most challenged books, revealing that there were 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number the organization has ever recorded.

According to ALA, 58% of those challenges “targeted books and materials in school libraries, classroom libraries, or school curricula.” In other recent tracking data, PEN America’s latest Index of School Book Bans found that in the first half of the 2022–2023 school year, there were “1,477 instances of books banned affecting 874 unique titles,” which is up 28% over the prior six months. These bans occurred in 37 states, with Texas, Florida, Missouri, Utah, and South Carolina topping the list.

Publishers Weekly spoke with some school librarians about the effect that book banning is having on their work, and how they are finding and offering support during this stressful and troubling time in their profession…