From Banned Books to Bot Books

A look at the changing landscape of school libraries

April is National School Library Month. This month, we celebrate the amazing world of school libraries and the incredible people who run them – our fantastic librarians. Libraries are treasure troves of knowledge and stories, just waiting to be explored. They're where a love of reading ignites, where curious minds can delve into anything that sparks their interest, and where imaginations take flight.


It has been a tough year for libraries. There were over 4,000 documented book bans in the fall of 2023, which means some students are losing access to important stories and perspectives. The American Library Association (ALA) published the Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2023 - featuring books like “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “All Boys Aren’t Blue,” by George M. Johnson. This is especially concerning because libraries are all about inclusivity and giving everyone a chance to see themselves reflected on the page. Organizations like Unite Against Book Bans support national initiatives to prevent censorship and book bans.


Librarians are the ones who curate library collections, ensuring there's something for everyone. Increasingly, they're the ones fighting to defend intellectual freedom and ensure students have access to a wide range of viewpoints. Proposed legislation in some states could restrict what materials libraries can carry and impose fines or even imprisonment on librarians who don't comply. It's a chilling reminder of the importance of librarian advocacy groups like the American Library Association who are fighting for the rights of readers and librarians everywhere.


Looking ahead, there are some pretty cool trends in the library world too! Technology is making its way onto library shelves. Apps like Ello are using AI to create hundreds of ebooks specifically designed to help young children learn to read. The ebooks use speech recognition technology to listen as a child reads, offering help with pronunciation and keeping them engaged with the story. While it's probably not going to replace our favorite authors any time soon, AI could be a fun way to spark new ideas and even personalize stories for young readers.