As debate continues to swirl over the McMinn County, TN school board’s decision to pull Maus from an 8th grade class, an old adage has proven true: controversy sells. As of last night, various editions of Maus held 5 spots on Amazon’s top 25, including #1, #3, #9 and #19. (As of this moment it’s down to #2 and #3.)

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Maus’s soaring sales have been noted in all mainstream media, and led Amazon to say the book won’t be available from them until the end of February.

Among the efforts to buy copies of the book to get into the hands of students: Nirvana Comics in Knoxville, TN has raised $85,000 and counting to purchase copies of the book to distribute to students in McMinn County and beyond.

The McMinn COunty school board has been mostly silent on the controversy, although they did release a statement last week that suggested they were looking for a non-violent way to teach kids about the murder of more than 6 million people.

Maus creator Art Spiegelman continues to do the media rounds and says there is talk of him doing a Q&A with those interested in McMinn County. All important efforts to get the story of Maus out to as many people as possible.

As heartwarming as all this is, a tweet from author/librarian Jennifer Iacopelli pointed out the real battle that lies before us:

School libraries don’t need you to donate copies of Maus and other banned books. They need you to step up and run for the school board so the books don’t get banned in the first place.

I understand that’s harder than tweeting about it and reposting an insta story, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sorry…this is what will actually help.
This lost me a follower. Apparently people don’t like being told their empty ass gestures are just that. Show up or shut up.


Indeed, today’s NY Times contains a lengthy summation of the battles that librarians and educators are facing today:

Parents, activists, school board officials and lawmakers around the country are challenging books at a pace not seen in decades. The American Library Association said in a preliminary report that it received an “unprecedented” 330 reports of book challenges, each of which can include multiple books, last fall

“It’s a pretty startling phenomenon here in the United States to see book bans back in style, to see efforts to press criminal charges against school librarians,” said Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of the free-speech organization PEN America, even if efforts to press charges have so far failed.

Such challenges have long been a staple of school board meetings, but it isn’t just their frequency that has changed, according to educators, librarians and free-speech advocates — it is also the tactics behind them and the venues where they play out. Conservative groups in particular, fueled by social media, are now pushing the challenges into statehouses, law enforcement and political races.

“The politicalization of the topic is what’s different than what I’ve seen in the past,” said Britten Follett, the chief executive of content at Follett School Solutions, one of the country’s largest providers of books to K-12 schools. “It’s being driven by legislation, it’s being driven by politicians aligning with one side or the other. And in the end, the librarian, teacher or educator is getting caught in the middle.”

It’s true that attempts to arrest and jail librarians for possessing a book like Gender Queer generally go nowhere in court….however imaging the chilling effect of even having to deal with such a thing. Two years ago, librarians were not worrying about going to jail. But here we are. Another thread from een Librarian and Blogger Karen Jensen is heartbreaking, as are the replies:

In case you are wondering what it is like to be a librarian these days, my husband & I have made plans for what happens if certain laws are passed, what lines we won’t cross, what happens if I get fired, and what happens if they start throwing librarians in jail.

Jensen elaborated in a blog post entitled Sunday Reflections: Teen Librarians are not Pornographers and Other Things You Should Know About the People Who Have Dedicated Their Lives to Serving Youth in Your Community:

I’m not here necessarily to talk about the book bannings themselves, there are plenty of articles out there about that (I will link some at the end of the post). Here in the state of Texas, there is a list of around 850 books going around and the things that those books have in common is this: they are all written by marginalized people who have always had to fight hard to have a voice. They are written by Black people, Latinx people, LGBTQ people and women. They are written to share personal stories about what it means to have to fight hard to justify your existence, to navigate this world safely and to be seen and heard in a world that wants to oppress, control and sometimes outright wipe you out of existence. They are books about sex education, gender and gender identity, racism, and there are even a few books about teen rights thrown in there. There are lots of posts about the books on the lists going around there as well.

But today, I want to talk to you about being a librarian and working with youth and how this is the scariest time to do both. Please note, I am a public librarian, not a school librarian. So while I have some fears, it is nothing compared to what my many friends who are school librarians have. And also, this is a personal post drawing on my 29 years of experience working with youth, mainly teenagers, in a public library.

The lessons learned from reading Maus as are applicable now as ever, and action is as urgent now as ever.



  1. I love how right wing nut bags such as Ben Shitpiro and loud mouthed Mark Levin stumble over the pronunciation. Can’t you guys just say ‘mouse’ instead of ‘moss’?



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