Protesting the Local Library: Past and present political contestation in public libraries

27 March 2024, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Public libraries in the United States have historically been the sites of political contestation and controversy. This ranges from contestation surrounding library funding to the content of library collections. Recently, activism within and against public libraries has become more frequent. This begs the question: how does political contestation in public libraries look today? Using a media analysis of U.S. public library contestation and controversy from 2019–2023, this paper presents categories of contemporary library contestation. These categories situate public libraries within a broader, ongoing context of efforts to polarize local political institutions.


civic engagement
public libraries


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