Tracie Hall, the first Black woman to lead the Chicago-based American Library Association, has been named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2023.
“It’s still sinking in,” Hall said. “I definitely know it’s not about me. It’s really about this moment in time for libraries and librarians and for all of us who are committed to ensuring that the right to read passes on to another generation.”
The announcement comes as a recent report from the ALA found that efforts to ban books nationwide nearly doubled in 2022 from the previous year. More than 1,200 book challenges were compiled by the organization in 2022, nearly twice as many as the 729 challenges reported in 2021.
Some state legislatures have made efforts to pass laws aimed at restricting books, with some officials going so far as to threaten to shut down libraries.
Of the titles targeted for censorship, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color, according to the ALA report.
“The thing that I fear, and I know that we won’t stand for it, is that if we sit silent while some of this legislation is proposed, it could really eradicate one of the most used public services that we have in our country today,” Hall said.
The ALA will be celebrating National Library Week from April 23-29. The week will kick off with Right to Read Day on Monday, which is a day meant for people to take action to protect, defend and celebrate the right to read.
The organization will also release its State of America’s Libraries report, including a list of the top 10 most challenged books of 2022.
Hall said a lot of the work she does is inspired by her childhood. She said her grandparents on her maternal side navigated low literacy. They pushed her to pursue education.
“My grandmother walked with me to the library every day, and so it’s really in honor of her, and in honor of people like her that the American Library Association is supporting the expansion of literacy outlets all over the country,” Hall said.