Response: Community Petition for Book Removal

Free access to information and ideas is a democratic right of every citizen. Public libraries ensure this right by providing the public with opportunities to participate fully in a changing society through access to a wide range of humanity's thoughts, ideas, information and expressions of the creative imagination.

Since March 2021, the Library has received two community petitions and requests to withdraw the book Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier from the Library’s collection. We have assessed the book against Halifax Public Libraries’ Collection Development Policy and the Canadian Federation of Library Associations’ Statement on Intellectual Freedom, opens a new window and have made the decision to not censor the book.

Community conversations and collaboration

In response to community concerns, we hosted conversations with community members and groups. We believe in the power of community conversations and collaboration—they allow us to find new and innovative ways to use our Library platform for positive change. Through our consultation and conversation with community members regarding this title, we have come to understand more deeply the trauma that is disproportionately experienced by the trans community and to appreciate the community’s resilience in the face of transphobia.

Our commitment to open dialogue and intellectual freedom

Public libraries exist to provide equal access to resources for everyone and support individuals’ freedom to seek information and form their own opinions. When we act to suppress access, we engage in censorship.

In addition to our community conversations, we have worked to identify additional resources and new ways to promote and make available the most recent and relevant trans-affirming works in our collection. Beyond our collection, we will continue to look for new opportunities to expand programming, provide space, and build connections to support the trans community while also educating the broader public.

Halifax Public Libraries is committed to supporting trans people and the broader LGBTQ2S+ community. We can work together, collaboratively, to elevate trans voices, and create more compassion and understanding for marginalized experiences. We know our conversations will continue. 

Further reading

Supporting Trans Youth: Reading Resources for Parents, opens a new window