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Morris Library

Banned Books: Protect Your Freedom to Read

This guide contains information on electronic and print resources for studying banned books, and the history of censorship.

we read banned books

Banned Books Week is celebrated annually, with sponsorship from the American Library Association (ALA), the National Association of College Stores, and many other organizations. According to the ALA, "Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States."

A Worrisome Trend

ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom 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. 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. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.

Banned Books Club and Books Unbanned

The Banned Books Club is a collaboration between libraries and sponsors to make banned books available online and at libraries for free. The University of Chicago and the Digital Public Library of America are offering free access to all Illinois residents through the Palace app.

A number of public libraries nationwide have joined the Books Unbanned initiative, offering free access to commonly challenged or banned titles in eBook form to readers age 13-26. If you fall in that age bracket, sign up for a free temporary library card and read banned books!

Top Ten Challenged Books from the Last Five Years

Banned in 2021 - 2022

According to PEN America, 1,636 different books were banned—not only challenged, but actually removed from shelves—in classrooms, schools, or libraries in the U.S. for at least a portion of the time between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. The following is a list of these banned titles available through Morris Library.