AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Attempted book bans and restrictions at school and public libraries are on the rise nationwide, and here in the Pioneer Valley.

According to the American Library Association, more than 2,500 book titles were targeted for censorship last year, a 38 percent increase from 2021. Amherst College Library Director Dr. Martin Garnar tells 22News, it’s concerning when censorship is used to dictate what students can think and be exposed to. He says it’s important to protect the rights of students and not allow for biased education.

“It is just another message that they don’t belong, that they are not full members of society, and that is not what education is supposed to be about,” Dr. Martin said. “It’s supposed to be a chance for us to give people the opportunity to see how they are part of our national story and to see what role they will play in it and learn about other people.”

Garnar adds that if any of those voices are silenced, it leads to an incomplete education for everyone. He suggests school libraries should follow their policies on book challenges.