Article – Book Riot: Freedom to Read Act Reintroduced in New Jersey

An important piece of legislative FYI in NJ

Legislators in New Jersey have introduced a newly revised Freedom to Read Act into the Senate. Andrew Zwicker (D-Middlesex) and Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex) sponsored the bill.

Senate Bill 2421 would establish several things. First, it would protect the right to read in libraries across the state. This comes through the requirement that every board of education in the state develop a policy regarding the materials in school libraries. While every school board will have the right to develop their own policy, it would require several provisions to protect access to a wide range of materials, including the understanding that those materials must represent the entirety of the school–not just the youngest within it. School libraries would not be allowed to exclude materials because of the background of those who have written the material or the backgrounds of those represented within it. Inclusivity and diversity would be enshrine in these policies as essential.

The bill would further require school boards to establish and codify how materials are challenged in the library. Challenges to material would be limited to those who have a vested interest in the institution, such as educators, students, or parents in the district. Challenged materials would remain on shelves throughout the process, and the makeup of the team reviewing materials would include educators, administrators, and librarians.

New Jersey’s state librarian would be tasked with developing model collection and challenge policies that school boards could adapt. These would be created in collaboration with the New Jersey Library Association.

Public libraries would also need to develop and adapt collection and challenge policies governing their collections.

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Freedom to Read Act Reintroduced in New Jersey