This week is Banned Books Week (Sept. 18-24, 2022), and although the event existed for many years, it seems particularly notable in 2022. This past year, there’s been a dramatic increase in the numbers of books banned in schools and requests for bans at public libraries across the US.
Intellectual freedom is at the heart of librarians’ beliefs. After all, the second point of the American Library Association Code of Ethics reads, “We uphold the principles of intellectual freedom and resist all efforts to censor library resources.”
Books are challenged for lots of reasons, and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) maintains a list of the most challenged books every year. In fact, there’s a list for every year in the 2000s. The OIF has only collected banned books statistics since 1990.
The lists are worth checking out; there are books that I can see why people request their removal, and others where I just can’t make the connection. Of course, everyone views books differently, and even though I may not be offended, someone else is upset enough to request that the book is removed.
So what can you do this Banned Books Week? I recommend finding a book on the most-banned list and giving it a read. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t. The most important thing is that you have the opportunity to read controversial material and decide for yourself how you feel about it.
—Chris Pollette, Service Design Librarian, liaison for German and Library Science, Emory Libraries