Spinning in Llano: Citizens Go to Court

Spinning, the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel by Tillie Walden, is one of several books that prompted a federal lawsuit Monday. Citizens from Llano County, Texas, a county Northwest of Austin, have filed the suit against the county and several public servants. The documents allege a breach of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The lawsuit states that the plaintiffs are “fiercely united in their love for reading public library books and in their belief that the government cannot dictate which books they can and cannot read.” 

The list of allegations against the county includes:

  • systematically removing or relocating books
  • terminating access to the digital library (access to over 17,000 books and films)
  • wrongfully firing a librarian (for refusing to remove books)
  • dissolving the old library board and instating a new board
  • giving the board power to decide what goes in the library collection

The conflict has been brewing since November 2021, when Texas representative Matt Krause released his list of 850 books he wanted removed from school libraries. The document filed Monday includes an allegation that one of the Defendants used the “Krause List” to check off what to remove from the public libraries. In December, the Llano County Library System closed all three branches for three days to reorganize the collections after being alerted to “pornographic filth” in the children’s section.

This chain of events is an example of legislative and political pressure affecting our rights. Many of these targeted books feature marginalized voices, social issues, or sex education. As reported in the recent PEN America report, Texas leads the nation in book challenges and bans. It was only a matter of time before this overstepping would be challenged in court. Though Spinning and other of the books are award-winning, the lawsuit reminds us, “Even books that are not nationally acclaimed should not be banned because of their content or viewpoint.” The library system is there to provide access to all people and viewpoints.

This case stands out among the book bans we’ve seen sweep the nation because it involves the Llano County Library System. Most of the bans and challenges we’ve seen and fought against this past year have been in the public school system, where students have restricted rights. Though books can’t be removed for their ideas, in the Supreme Court case Board of Education v. Pico, “The justices allow that books that are ‘pervasively vulgar’ or educationally unsuitable can be removed.” 

We will be following this case and providing updates as it moves forward. 

CBLDF and its partners have been battling ongoing and organized attempts to censor comics and other books in schools and libraries. You can join the struggle by making a donation or reporting censorship today!