Parent Perceptions of Public Libraries and Book Bans Survey - Report Released
The EveryLibrary Institute, a public policy think tank for libraries, and Book Riot, the largest independent editorial book site in North America, announce the results of a comprehensive survey of parents about their perceptions of public libraries and the current issues that libraries face.
The "Public Libraries and Book Bans - Parent Perception Survey" gathered insights from 853 parents and guardians with children under 18 during September 2023. The survey asked parents and guardians to share their experiences and opinions about book bans, their trust in libraries and their understanding of librarians' book selection process, and their feelings on sensitive subjects in children's books, such as sex, LGBTQ+ characters and themes, race, and social justice issues in reading and literature. The survey results are detailed in a new report from EveryLibrary Institute and Book Riot.
Top-level findings are:
- 67% of respondents agree or somewhat agree that “banning books is a waste of time”.
- 74% agree or somewhat agree that book bans infringe on their right to make decisions for their children (42% agree; 32% somewhat agree).
- 92% of all respondents say that they feel their child/children are safe at the library.
- 58% think librarians should be primarily responsible for what books are selected in the public library.
- 57% say that reading opens children up to new ideas, new people, and new perspectives, and 44% say that teens should have access to books on controversial subjects and themes.
- 43% report that their local library has age restrictions on children’s library card borrowing privileges;19% report that there are no restrictions on the child’s card; and 37% are unsure.
- A majority of respondents (53%) do not know how librarians decide what books should be in a library collection.
- A supermajority (66%) of respondents said ‘no’ when asked if a book that their child checked out made them (the parent) uncomfortable; 67% said ‘no’ when asked if their child has ever been uncomfortable with a book they checked out.
- Parents and guardians are more comfortable with a child accessing age-appropriate children's books related to "social justice" and "race/racism" than they are with a child accessing age-appropriate children's books related to "LGBTQ+ characters" and "puberty and sexual education" themes.
Please visit https://www.everylibraryinstitute.org/parent_perception_public_libraries_2023 to read the full report.
Findings suggest that parents feel their children are safe at the library and believe they should be the ones to make decisions about what books their child reads. Most parents do not support book bans and believe they infringe on their rights. Parents are more comfortable with children accessing age-appropriate books related to social justice and race than LGBTQ+ themes and sexual education. Respondents are largely unaware of how librarians decide what books to include in the library collection. Many respondents believe that some books in children's sections are inappropriate.
"This report sheds light on the perceptions of parents regarding public libraries and the current issues they face," said John Chrastka, EveryLibrary Institute Executive Director. "Together with Book Riot, we are dedicated to empowering libraries to provide exceptional services that meet the unique needs of parents. The results of this survey can be used to improve library services and address parents' concerns, ultimately leading to better experiences at the library for parents and their children."
"Book Riot could not be more proud to collaborate with EveryLibrary for this exciting project. This research is vital and necessary in our collective efforts to champion literacy, support libraries and librarians, and understand parental perceptions around the role of the public library," said Vanessa Diaz, Managing Editor at Book Riot. "Kelly Jensen and Danika Ellis have done and continue to do such important and challenging work to educate our readers on the state of book bans and censorship, and we're so glad to see those efforts recognized through this partnership. We're excited to see the results of this research shared and hope it will encourage conversation and inspire change."
"By gathering insights from parents, we hope to generate a body of informative and thought-provoking material that sheds light on the complex issues surrounding book bans and censorship", said Kelly Jensen from Book Riot. "Our ultimate goal is to foster an open dialogue around these issues and to support libraries and their users in navigating this challenging landscape."
For more information about the survey and to stay updated on the results and subsequent actions, please visit everylibraryinstitute.org and bookriot.com. This survey is the first in a series of three focusing on parents and libraries. Please watch for additional surveys on perceptions of school libraries and perceptions of librarians in fall 2023.
About EveryLibrary Institute
The EveryLibrary Institute is a library think tank and professional network that is focused on improving and supporting the future of library funding in the United States and abroad. Our primary work is to create effective programs, original research, and relevant training programs that enable public libraries to serve their diverse communities and school libraries to create equity in education. Please visit http://everylibraryinstitute.org/.
About Book Riot
Book Riot is North America's largest independent editorial book site, providing coverage of books, literature, and reading culture. With a dedicated team of contributors, Book Riot offers engaging content, recommendations, and discussions on various literary topics, including diverse and inclusive reading experiences. Please visit http://bookriot.com/.