When Banning Leads to Bullying

How do you show support for librarians during times of book bans and censorship?

With the hostility that has arisen from book banning efforts, we must learn how to recognize and help break the cycle of bullying librarians.

We often think of bullying as something that only children encounter. We would not be wrong to consider bullying a problem that can originate in childhood.  Still, without intervention, those who bully do not stop. 

This brings us to topics of workplace bullying. Workplace bullying is something that I have personally encountered. As a mental health professional, I have presented on it and created content and policies around it, and I have worked hard to help people to recover from the floodgates of mental anguish that arises after situations that involve this topic. 

Today I see bullying up close and personal in libraries, and the people impacted most are those who are creating stepping stones for our children to embrace literacy. Library professionals are now being accosted, aggravated, and targeted for doing their job. This job that I speak of is not an easy task to accomplish. Some people are not aware that librarians have to obtain advanced degrees to be in the industry.


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This being said, it is mind-boggling that people are subjecting them to scrutiny as though they are not qualified to do the very hard work in the field that they studied to excel in. As a mental health professional, I know obtaining an advanced degree is not a simple task and that it takes extreme dedication to specialize in fields that require graduate degrees. I served on a library board where my tenacity toward inclusion created waves that came with threats and mean-hearted responses. I was able to stay the course, and eventually, a lot of change happened. Today I speak on these issues because, as a trustee, I may have had more say than a librarian. 

Librarians, unlike trustees, are face-to-face with the public daily and under pressure to let go of the tenets that protect the freedom to read. We need to call this behavior what it is...it is bullying. Bullies do not stop on their own. The circle of bullying includes the bully, the bystander, and the victim.


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We need to recognize that we can break this circle and cycle so that our librarians are no longer victimized. We cannot achieve this by being bystanders. We cannot do this by being bullies. We need to reflect and see what we can do to support those who are trying their best to support our right to read whatever we want. 

How can you support us? Well, what are you good at? Are you a writer? Write letters, blogs, articles, and your legislature. Are you an educator? Educate others on the importance of the library profession. Are you a parent? Create coffee support circles and avenues for others to get involved and lend a hand. Lastly...ask your local librarian about their needs and determine if you can fulfill that need. 

Bullies do not stop because they get older...they stop because they change. Let's create change together.


Tara Michener is an Licensed Professional Counselor, Author, Speaker and Mom. Check out her podcast, Mental Health Moments with Tara and her TEDx speech. Follow her on Twitter at @Taramichener.