The Hill – “Threats to libraries are real and growing, and action is urgently needed,” writes Sarat, Amherst’s William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science. “The fate of democracy and the fate of public libraries are inexorably linked.”

In this edition of his frequent opinion column for The Hill, Sarat outlines the early history of libraries in the United States. These institutions, he notes, “knit communities together by serving everyone and providing essential services for all. They are community crossroads where the old and the young, the rich and the economically disadvantaged, and newcomers to this country and long-time residents mix as equals.”

The professor cites news stories and statistics on the recent dramatic increase in attempts to ban books from public and school libraries. “States like Florida and Texas have passed laws to regulate, restrict or censor the material that libraries can offer their patrons,” he writes, but “states like California, Connecticut and New Jersey are now considering legislation to protect libraries and librarians.” He quotes and explains the proposed protective laws in these states, saying, “Other states need to follow their lead.”