National Library Week is April 23-29, 2023, a time celebrate our nation’s libraries, library workers’ contributions, and promote library use and support. This year’s theme is There’s More to the Story.
Today is Right to Read Day, a call to action to fight back against censorship to defend, protect, and celebrate your right to read freely.
The American Library Association has also released its most challenged books of 2022 as part of its State of American Libraries 2022 report [link to webpage containing pdf]. ALA documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago and nearly doubling the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. While other instances of book challenges or removals may have occurred, these are the ones reported to the ALA.
In 2022, 2,571 unique titles were targeted for censorship.
Removing a book from a collection due to inaccuracies, age, or condition (something libraries often do in order to provide the best resources to their users) is different than banning or requesting to ban a book– most books that are challenged because they represent marginalized communities, have “profane” or “offensive” language or content, or disagree with someone’s political, religious, or social viewpoint. In 2022, books containing LGBTQIA+ content were the top challenged materials. Self-selection and choosing to not read a book because you disagree with it is different than requesting to remove it from a collection so no one can read it.
Keep reading for ways that you can advocate for libraries, including how to read some of 2022’s most challenged books and decide for yourself.
Library advocacy can look like many things. Participating in school board meetings or library board meetings as an advocate against censorship, reporting censorship, and having educated conversations about the long-term impacts of censorship on both majority and minority communities can help combat this new wave of challenges and help support your local libraries and their collections.
The primary way you can advocate for your libraries is to use them and their resources! Check out a book or DVD. One of the most basic statistics that libraries use to show their value to funding entities is their usage statistics, including circulation (books and items checked out).
The Durham Tech Library has digital and physical items for use, including some of the most challenged materials of 2022.
Stay on the look out for more National Library Week posts!