The full text of Harris County Commissioners resolution making HCPL a book sanctuary.
WHEREAS, book banning and censorship have existed throughout the history of written works, a practice most notably observed in the 1860s and Jim Crow Era when Southern states prohibited abolitionist literature, and in the 1930s when Nazis burned over 25,000 books seen as “un-German;” and
WHEREAS, Harris County is committed to learning from past injustices and not repeating them; and
WHEREAS, the freedom to read is under threat across the nation, and nowhere more so than in the state of Texas which challenged 2,349 books, of which at least 511 were removed from school libraries and classrooms in 2022, and is on pace to once again lead the nation in challenging and removing books in 2023; and
WHEREAS, House Bill 900, which passed in the 88th Texas Legislature, requires vendors to assign book ratings based on appropriateness and places an unfair burden on booksellers, and the bill’s vague language serves as a tactic to intimidate teachers, librarians, and publishers into erring on the side of caution; and
WHEREAS, the Harris County Public Library (HCPL) is committed to protecting the rights of all individuals of all ages, to use the library’s resources and services, and to defend the freedom to speak, think, and read as they choose, which are guaranteed rights by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, HCPL staff are dedicated to the principle of free and equitable access to information and knowledge, and deserve to pursue their calling free from harassment and intimidation, and Harris County is committed to their protection; and
WHEREAS, the HCPL would like to serve as a Book Sanctuary to preserve Texans’ right to read by collecting and protecting endangered books by making them available to the public, by fostering discussion about challenged and diverse books to promote understanding and mutual respect, and by educating the public about current and past efforts to censor and ban books; and
WHEREAS, the HCPL is joining a network of over 2,780 established Book Sanctuaries across the United States committed to supporting intellectual freedom and opposing censorship and any effort to coerce belief or suppress opinion: now, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED that Harris County Commissioners Court hereby supports the Harris County Public Library as a
to combat censorship, defend intellectual freedom, and protect the right to read.
It is hereby ORDERED that this Resolution be spread upon the minutes of Commissioners Court this 19th day of September 2023.