From Book Bans to Bomb Threats

It’s striking that in the name of ‘protecting the children,’ someone would threaten to blow up a library at a time they would reasonably assume it was full of children.

Why do radical groups say they want certain books banned? What is their argument whenever it comes to stripping books off shelves and taking them away from students and kids?

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They claim it's to protect the children.

Unfailingly. They will insist that it is in the interest of protecting children from the content of the books these political activists disagree with, that these books must be taken away. To protect them from the harm that could be done if they were to read the ideas inside the books.  Because the books at the top of banned lists are much too dangerous for children to have access too, and the only way we can truly be safe is if we remove them from shelves so innocent students cannot be harmed by them.

It's a hard argument to square, considering bomb threats against libraries filled with children are on the rise.

By the very same political activists spearheading book bans.

The Lancaster Public Library in Pennsylvania is the latest to fall victim to one of these threats. A March 23rd story hour had to be canceled because of a bomb scare based threats and a suspicious package found outside the library by the local bomb squad.  The library closed for the day as well to make sure their staff and visitors were not in harm’s way.  After the first package was cleared, the library was threatened again, and police ended up having to close the entire block to make sure it was safe for the other businesses to continue to operate.


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It’s striking that in the name of ‘protecting the children,’ someone would threaten to blow up a library at a time they would reasonably assume it was full of children. How does violence of this measure make any kind of sense? 

And Lancaster is not alone. Bomb threats against libraries have become an escalating concern. As the number of books being challenged for a ban has exploded over the last two years, so has the number of libraries being threatened with violence and terrorism.  In Minnesota earlier this year, The Heritage Library in Lakeville, Fergus Falls Public Library, and several in the East Central Regional library system all received bomb threats in what seemed to be a coordinated effort. BookRiot reported on it at the time, and quoted one of the librarians who received the threat as saying ‘it sounded like the person was reading from a script.’  In every case, the libraries had to be temporarily closed, and in the incident at the Heritage Library, nearby businesses did as well in order to make sure the area was safe.


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Chicago, Joliet, Aurora and another half dozen Chicagoland counties were menaced by similar threats through the summer of 2023. What was particularly insidious about some of those incidents, is they coincided with the Illinois state’s secretary of state’s visit to Washington D.C. to champion a bill that was aimed at protecting libraries and librarians. 

Months prior to that, Vice ran an article reporting on violent threats and bomb scares being leveled at libraries in Nashville, Fort Worth, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Boston.  All of them were within weeks of each other. 

This is a nationwide problem.  And it has been getting worse.

The Washington Post reported last week on the surging tide of bans and book challenges going on in the country, with some pretty startling insights demonstrating there has been an exponential increase in books banned nationwide. According to their findings, from the years 1990 to 2020, an average of four hundred and fifty books were challenged annually nationwide. From 2011 to 2020, that number was only around three hundred titles for all fifty states. From 2021 to 2023, however, the number approached close to seven thousand. 

And against the backdrop of a near fifteen-fold increase in the number of books being banned nationwide comes an acceleration of threats against the libraries themselves. Radicals are threatening to blow up libraries because they don’t like the people reading books, or the content of the books that are on the shelves.

Blowing up libraries to protect children.

So let’s not kid ourselves on the actual aims of these radicals. They have no real interest in protecting children or keeping them safe.  If they did, the idea of threatening libraries with explosives would be so foreign to their ideology we would not have to write about these things.  You don’t protect people with bombs.

What they are really after is censorship. They want to silence voices they do not agree with and force libraries and communities to shutter in fear. And all too often, because of the nature and seriousness of these threats, the radicals get their way.

After all, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the librarians, police, and community did what anyone would do to actually keep children safe.  They kept them out of harm’s way. They closed the library down and canceled their story hour so that no one would risk being hurt. It came at the cost of being silenced and closing their doors temporarily, but the library’s community was the one that actually protected the children.

And they are not alone. Time and time again, libraries take immediate action to remove the risk of harm to their staff, community, and especially young readers when extremists threaten them with violence. But it is always at the cost of temporary closure. It is always at the cost of kids and students losing out on time and opportunity to be at the library reading, learning, expanding their knowledge, and cultural awareness.

That’s what people who make bomb threats against libraries want. They don’t want to ‘protect children.’ They want silence and censorship.

We cannot allow threats of violence like this to continue.