Book Challenges in Virginia


November 12, 2021

Hello VLA members,

You have likely already seen in the news that Virginia has been experiencing a number of book challenges in schools. We wanted to let you know we are working with the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) as well as the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and their Public Policy Office; we have also been in touch with the National Coalition Against Censorship (which is working on its own statement.)

I’ve attached two letters here that VLA has sent recently. The one to the Virginia Beach City Public Schools was sent just before the VLA conference last month; the one to the Spotsylvania County Superintendent and Board members was sent this morning. Harrisonburg’s Superintendent also pulled a book from shelves this week without receiving a formal challenge; we will be addressing that as well.

Libraries have procedures and policies in place for users to submit challenges; we are seeing a pattern of those procedures not being followed. We will speak up, as an association, any time we see book banning, censorship or (in the case of Spotsylvania) threats to burn books. In the past couple of months, there has been media attention surrounding the “Beloved” bill from a few years ago. I’ve included some links below as a reminder of the actions we took then, and what we will continue to do. If you want to talk to someone about what has been happening in your libraries, please contact Lisa Varga, or reach out to the Office of Intellectual Freedom at ALA. We are here to help.

We will send you updates as we have them. Thank you.

KT Vaughan, President
Kimberly Bray Knight, Vice President/President Elect
Jennifer Resor Whicker, Past President
Maryśka Connolly Brown, Secretary
Zachary Elder, Second Vice-President
Kyle Binaxas, Treasurer
Lucinda Rush Wittkower, ALA Councilor
Lisa R. Varga, VLA Executive Director


Spotsylvania School Board orders libraries to remove 'sexually explicit' books:

Amid controversy, superintendent pulls graphic novel from school library:

ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom:

ALA's Public Policy and Advocacy Office:

Library Bill of Rights:

VLA Intellectual Freedom Update: VLA letter to members February 1, 2017:

Finding Advocacy Allies: Library associations in Virginia team up to fight bad bills:

NCAC Objects to Removal of Lawn Boy and Gender Queer from Fairfax, Virginia, School Libraries:

Lisa R. Varga, MLS
Executive Director
Virginia Library Association
PO Box 56312
Virginia Beach, VA 23456
757-689-0594 (w)

[email protected]


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