The Hoboken City Council will vote on a measure declaring them the first “book sanctuary city” in New Jersey at tomorrow evening’s meeting.
The resolution, sponsored by Council President Emily Jabbour and 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, notes that the Hoboken Public Library Board of Trustees approved a similarly worded measure on August 22nd and that the council “joins the Hoboken Public Library in its strong opposition to book bans.”
“It is more important than ever that communities acknowledge the need to establish safe spaces to tell and share stories that are being censored around the country – most often the stories of people of color and the LGBTQ+ community,” Jabbour said in a statement.
“I am proud to stand with the Hoboken Public Library and the incredible work that they have done under the leadership of Director Jennie Pu to bring awareness to this issue, starting with the successful Banned Book Read-A-Thon in June and now with this initiative that will declare Hoboken as the first Book Sanctuary City in the state of New Jersey.”
The read-a-thon received a ton of negative backlash after the LibsofTikTok, a popular far right Twitter account, was highly critical of the event auctioning banned books.
The local GOP also specifically asked for “no explicit content” to be distributed at the event, which Mayor Ravi Bhalla denied was a real issue.
“Hoboken’s rich history and vibrant community make it the perfect place for a Book Sanctuary. In establishing this haven for books, we not only honor the city’s diversity, but also champion unrestricted thinking and the unrestricted exchange of knowledge,” Bhalla said today.
“I encourage the Hoboken City Council to adopt this resolution to make Hoboken a refuge where books that may be prohibited in other places can be readily embraced by those who seek them.”
A few dozen families attended the early summer event at Church Square Park, which ended up going off without a hitch.
“I proudly stand with the Hoboken Public Library’s Board of Trustees in support of establishing the Hoboken Public Library as a Book Sanctuary for banned books,” added Cohen.
“I hope other New Jersey governing bodies join Hoboken and Chicago to support their libraries as part of the “Read-sistance,” establishing more safe spaces for censored stories, just as Hoboken’s governing body stands with our Library in support of its Banned Book Read-A-Thon last June.”
Chicago was the first city in the country to adopt local legislation opposing book bans last year.