Two library systems in the Kansas City, MO, area have found themselves at the center of challenges to free speech. An event last spring at the Kansas City Public Library (KCPL) resulted in the arrests of a both patron who spoke at a public lecture and the librarian who defended him. And in August, at the nearby Grandview branch of the Mid-Continent Public Library (MCPL), two security guards resigned in protest of a book display originally titled “Black Lives Matter,” although the library changed the title. Both incidents, while different in tenor and outcome, highlight the role of libraries as defenders of free speech and safe spaces for dissent.
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