How this online library is fighting back against US book bans

Girl reading a book in a library

An online library featuring hundreds of LGBTQ+ titles is working to combat book bans in the US, and provide a “sense of home and safety” for queer young people. 

This year has seen countless attempted book bans across the US, and many banned titles come from authors dealing with LGBTQ+ themes, with activists explaining that pushes to ban books is “harmful to students from historically marginalised backgrounds”. 

One project, the Queer Liberation Library (QLL), is now aiming to combat this, launching in October with an entirely online catalogue that can be accessed anywhere in the country – even in states enacting bans on certain titles.

Kieran Hickey, the library’s founder and executive director, told CNN that LGBTQ+ people have overcome “so many barriers” to access queer literature, and said the library aims to be a resource for all Americans, “no matter where they live”. 

“For anybody who’s on a journey of self-discovery in their sexual orientation or gender identity, finding information and going to queer spaces can be incredibly daunting,” Hickey said.  

The online shelves of QLL contain several books that have been challenged or banned across the US, including Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer and George M. Johnson’s All Boys Aren’t Blue, as well as celebrity memoirs like Elliot Page’s Pageboy

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The site also features a “quick exit” button, so users who are not out publicly can hide or leave the page fast. 

Hickey explained: This was a way to combat the book bans, but also to give people that sense of home and safety in their own space without having to potentially out themselves in any way.”

Hickey added that the “exact person they’re trying to reach” is someone who may not have access to libraries, or may have seen LGBTQ+ titles banned in their closest library. 

“There was one person who let us know that we’re their main access to library materials at this point because of where they live in a rural area,” Hickey said. “This is the exact person I want to help.”

While several states have attempted to ban LGBTQ+ content in books, and LGBTQ+ stories are often the most targeted by book bans, states are fighting back. In June, Illinois signed a law preventing book bans, while California followed suit with a similar law in September.  

“Book bans are harmful because they remove stories that can help every reader understand themselves and each other. They perpetuate messages that some people and some history don’t matter,” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, said on Twitter/X

“For LGBTQ youth, bans attempt to eliminate a chance to see that they are welcome and belong, that they’re not alone. Everyone deserves to see themselves on the shelves.”

PinkNews has contacted Queer Liberation Library for comment.