The American Library Association (ALA) released new preliminary data today documenting the continued rise in censorship attempts in libraries across the U.S. during the first eight months in 2023. The numbers don’t lie: book bans are still rising nationwide.
Between January 1 and August 31, 2023, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) reported 695 attempts to censor library materials and services and documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles. The number of unique titles challenged has increased by 20% from the same reporting period in 2022, a year that shattered censorship records. Most of the challenges were to books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Perhaps most notable of all was the increase in challenges to books in public libraries, which accounted for 49% of documented challenges, compared to 16% during the same reporting period in 2022. The largest contributor to the rise in these statistics continues to be a single challenge by a person or group demanding the removal or restriction of multiple titles, with over 90% of the overall number of books challenged included as part of an attempt to censor multiple titles.
“These attacks on our freedom to read should trouble every person who values liberty and our constitutional rights, said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “To allow a group of people or any individual, no matter how powerful or loud, to become the decision-maker about what books we can read or whether libraries exist, is to place all of our rights and liberties in jeopardy.”
You can read the full report on ALA’s website. And help us spread the word by sharing these graphics (click to enlarge and download):