Social Media Librarian To Combat Book Bans By Spreading ‘Library Joy’

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Social media’s favorite librarian Mychal Threets has immersed himself into a career of book advocacy amid the decline of library funding and ban of books that tell diverse stories.

The former Solano County, Calif. Library supervisor has visited at least 10 states in the last five months to serve as a panelist or keynote speaker on topics about the importance of books and their impact on young people.

“I’ve been able to just talk to library kids, talk to library grown-ups and remind them to be their best weird selves and it’s OK to not be OK,” Threets tells NBC News.

Threets made it his mission to advocate for books following his exit as a librarian in March to focus on his mental health. He was dealing with bouts of anxiety and depression after amassing over one million followers on Instagram and TikTok and dealing with comments from critics and trolls.

@mychal3ts We can get to “okay” together! Deep breaths with our friend @ArthurPBS are a great start in reaching that destination #LibraryTikTok #BookTok #Storytime ♬ original sound – mychal

Threets, whose content openly shares his mental health challenges and book admiration, has always turned to reading to get him through his toughest moments.

“Books are that constant friend in the battle with your own mind,” he said.

Once he saw a sweep of book bans get implemented in 2023 that largely took aim at literary works by or about LGBTQ+ and people of color, Threets knew it was time to take his love for books on the road.

“When we challenge books or ban them, we eliminate opportunities for people to find out about themselves and others because that’s all books are,” Threets said.

Now, the 10-year library professional is working with Congress to combat book bans and secure funding for libraries in California and nationwide. Threets and other library leaders recently flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with elected officials including Rep. Barbara Lee and Sen. Laphonza Butler, both Democrats of California, to talk about the importance of supporting libraries.

“It’s a problem for all of us because it could happen anywhere,” he said of the book bans.

It’s not just reading that’s at risk when libraries lose funding but the online services, like homework assistance, as well as community building for those need.

“Libraries are one of the last free institutions, and there are no expectations when you come through those library doors,” Threets said. “In order to keep that momentum, we need help with funding.”

Threets continues to push out his online content to share his “library joy” while positively combatting ideologies that the world needs fewer books. His aim is to inspire others to rethink the value that libraries and books have in a community.

“There’s something for everybody at the local library and that’s only possible when we get more and more funding,” he said. “And ultimately when we get more support for our local libraries, for our community libraries, the results are even greater for literacy.”

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