She said book-ban campaigns that started with criticizing school board members and librarians have now turned their attention to the tech startups that run the apps, which had existed for years without drawing much controversy.
“It’s not enough to take a book off the shelf,” she said. “Now they want to filter electronic materials that have made it possible for so many people to have access to literature and information they’ve never been able to access before.”
Not just tech
Kimberly Hough, a parent of two children in Brevard Public Schools, said her 9-year-old noticed immediately when the Epic app disappeared a few weeks ago because its collection had become so useful during the pandemic.
“They could look up books by genre, what their interests are, fiction, nonfiction, so it really is an online library for kids to find books they want to read,” she said. She said her daughter would read “everything available” about animals.
Russell Bruhn, a spokesperson for Brevard Public Schools, said the district removed Epic because of a new Florida law that requires book-by-book reviews of online libraries. According to the law, signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, “each book made available to students” through a school library must be “selected by a school district employee.” Epic says its online libraries are curated by employees to make sure they’re age-appropriate.
Bruhn said that no parents complained about the app and that no specific books had concerned school officials but that officials decided the collection needed review.