Here at We ❤️ Health Literacy HQ, we don’t really need another reason to love libraries — but they just keep popping up on a printing press-sized platter. Yep, we’re talking about how libraries across the country are pushing back against attempts from conservative lawmakers and advocacy groups to ban books and restrict what people can access through their local library. (Don’t even get us started on recent book bans in schools!) For example, check out this TikTok video by a group of Illinois librarians, featuring a special guest appearance by a former President.
To no one’s great surprise, many of the books being targeted showcase representations of communities of color, LGBTQ+ people, and other groups already marginalized by right-wing conservative politics. As health communicators, we know how much representation matters. We also know that health education doesn’t just happen at the doctors’ office or in a classroom. It happens when kids look at a picture book that helps them understand how their bodies work. Or when tweens pick up a novel that gets them thinking about their gender identity. And yes, sometimes it happens when teens read about tough topics — like abuse or depression — and start asking equally tough questions.
The ability to make informed decisions about health — that is, the desired outcome when we create health education materials using health literacy best practices — depends on having access to accurate information, without censorship or political agenda. Full stop. And that’s exactly what our libraries are fighting for. So go ahead and show them some love in the name of (health) literacy!
The bottom line: Libraries provide free, equitable access to (health) information. Let’s help it stay that way.
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