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BPC Bulletin January 18, 2024

BPC Bulletin: The Book Purge in Peel Region's Public Schools in 2023

News Reports and Commentary Selected by Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee.

In 2023, administrators employed by Ontario’s Peel District School Board directed school librarians to change the composition of their libraries’ collections.

The board’s administrators wanted to create collections of books that reflected the racial, ethnic, religious and sexual diversity of the student population. They wanted all students to see themselves in the books that they read.

The board’s administrators also launched a book purge. They directed librarians to remove books that reinforced — in the administrators’ view — colonialism, racism, classism, sexism and heteronormative ideas.

The directive affected libraries in 259 public schools in Peel Region, chiefly Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. An unknown number of books, perhaps thousands, disappeared. Many were published before 2008.

In mid-September 2023, this book purge, which had begun without fanfare, attracted the attention of concerned parents and the news media. When Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s minister of education, learned about the purge, he called for a halt.

In December 2023, C2C Journal published a feature-length story (with photos) about these events. Marjorie Gann, a retired elementary school teacher and children’s book author and reviewer, wrote the story. You can find it here:

Empty Shelves: The Noxious Politics Behind a Canadian School Board’s Massive Book Purge | C2C Journal

The Book and Periodical Council was formed in 1975 as the Book and Periodical Development Council to provide a venue for members to discuss industry issues, address mutual concerns and undertake projects for the benefit of Canadian writing and publishing.