Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of our freedom to read, and a reminder that we still must fight for this freedom.
Last year, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. Censors targeted a record 2,571 unique titles in 2022, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021. Right here in Massachusetts, 45 attempts were made to restrict access to 57 different books in 2022.
The most challenged book in 2022, both in Massachusetts and nationwide, was Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe. Maia recently wrote a comic about what it means to em to have made the most banned book in America, which you can read here on The Nib.
In addition to challenges against books, libraries in America faced challenges and attacks on displays, programs, films, databases, magazines, online resources, artwork, social media, music, and reading lists.
Here are some of the ways you can help combat censorship and protect the freedom to read:
- Share on social media your support of Banned Books Week. One way is to ride on by to our Banned Books display on the Mezzanine and take a selfie with a “WANTED” book!
- Fill out a bookmark at our Banned Books display for one that you’ve read with what the “REWARD” could be for capturing and reading that “WANTED” book.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover: 90% of the books challenged last year were part of attempts to censor multiple titles, with 40% appearing on lists of 100+ books! Either the people challenging these books are very prolific readers, or they are making decisions about what other people can read without fully knowing exactly what they are trying to censor. We encourage everyone to read and decide for themselves which books are worth recommending to others and which ones should be left alone.
- If you think our collection has too much or too little of a particular point of view, send us your suggestions for titles we could add to our collection to create a good balance and give our community more options and opportunities to explore ideas. (We can’t promise to fill every request, but we do our best!)
- Remind your friends and family that when it comes to exploring ideas and changing minds, education and thoughtful conversation is more effective than censorship and silence.