Pass the Delaware Libraries for All Act - HB299

The Delaware Libraries for All Act (HB299) is critical legislation that reinforces the right to read by affirming the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and democracy in public libraries.

By extending civil rights protections to all readers through public accommodation laws, the Delaware Libraries for All Act ensures that every Delawarean has fair access to a world of information and ideas. It safeguards against censorship, discrimination, and bias by explicitly recognizing libraries' responsibilities in this context.

This bill is not just about libraries; it is about protecting the foundations of our Constitutional freedoms. We encourage all Delawareans to support this vital legislation and help make our voices heard to ensure HB299 becomes law. Let's stand together to defend intellectual freedom, promote equality, and create inclusive spaces for all.

FACT SHEET - HB299, the Delaware Libraries for All Act (2024)

Sponsored by Rep. Romer and co-sponsored by Rep. Longhurst, Rep. Baumbach, and Sen. Sturgeon. Bill status and text: 

HB299, the Delaware Libraries for All Act, strengthens the right to read by extending civil rights protections to public library collections, services, programs, and events through the application of public accommodations laws. It directs the Delaware Library Consortium to develop and adopt policies concerning collection, development, and other topics in order to ensure equitable access and the right to read for all Delawareans.

Delaware Equal Accommodations Act at 6 § 4502 mandates the provision of equal access to places of public accommodations and prohibits discrimination. 

The Delaware Equal Accommodations Act says that a “place of public accommodation” means any establishment that caters to or offers goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to, or solicits patronage from, the general public, including state agencies, local government agencies, and state-funded agencies performing public functions. 

HB299 would add “public libraries” to the definition of “place of public accommodation” for purposes of Delaware’s Equal Accommodations Law. This application of the law would ensure that public library policies concerning collections, services, facilities, and resources are inclusive to all, without favor or discrimination.

In upholding the principles of the First Amendment to the Constitution, public libraries serve as guardians of citizens' rights to receive and express diverse ideas and information unencumbered by censorship. By adding public libraries to state public accommodations definitions, Delaware would strengthen the right to read by extending civil rights protections to include access by racial, religious, gender, and sexual minorities to books, programs, services, and facilities of public libraries. 

Public libraries serve as a cornerstone of our democracy by providing all Delawareans free access to information and literacy services. Public libraries are fundamental in fostering literacy by providing accessible resources to all. The State of Delaware values its diverse citizenry and believes that all citizens should have equal access to public library resources and services without discrimination or bias.

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