Only You Can Prevent Book Bans

Books unite us. They reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. Censorship, on the other hand, divides us and creates barriers. One of our most important goals here at the Library is to provide free and equitable access to information and resources. Among the many implications of that word—access—is the notion of freedom: you are free to read, watch, play, or listen to whatever interests you.

The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom has released new data documenting recent book challenges in 2023 throughout the United States. Compared to 2022, the challenges of unique titles increased 65%, reaching the highest level ever documented by the ALA.

The ALA documented 4,240 unique book titles targeted for censorship, as well as 1,247 demands to censor library books, materials, and resources in 2023. Four key trends emerged from the data gathered from 2023 censorship reports:

  • Pressure groups in 2023 focused on public libraries in addition to targeting school libraries. The number of titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92% over the previous year, accounting for about 46% of all book challenges in 2023.
  • Groups and individuals demanding the censorship of multiple titles, often dozens or hundreds at a time, drove this surge.
  • Titles representing the voices and lived experiences of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up 47% of those targeted in censorship attempts.
  • There were attempts to censor more than 100 titles in each of these 17 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

"The campaign to censor books and other media is spreading, as public libraries have seen an alarming increase in book challenges for the second straight year," said Library Director Grier Carson. "Whether you're a reader, audiophile, film buff, gamer, or just like going down informational rabbit holes, this campaign is a threat to anyone who values their ability to think for themselves. Here at MCPL, intellectual freedom drives our mission and our strategic planning, and we consider the fight against censorship to be a top priority. Regardless of motive, any attempt to restrict access to materials is an attempt to restrict independent thought and intellectual development, and libraries will not stand for it—and neither should patrons."

Stand for intellectual freedom and protect the right to read. Join Unite Against Book Bans, ALA's national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together against censorship. Report censorship to the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom.