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NYC Libraries Take A Stand Against Book Banning

NYC Libraries Take A Stand Against Book Banning

The New York Public Library launched a new initiative giving readers across the country access to banned books for free


The New York Public Library is taking a stand against book banning by launching Books for All, a new initiative that gives readers across the country access to banned books for free. 

The available book titles are: 

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (Square Fish / Macmillan Publishers)

  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (Scholastic)

  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Hachette Book Group)

  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group)

The books are available now through the end of May with no waits and no fines. New York Public Library cardholders will have access to the books beyond May, the library said. 

“These recent instances of censorship and book banning are extremely disturbing and amount to an all-out attack on the very foundation of our democracy,” Anthony W. Marx,  New York Public Library president, said. “Knowledge is power; ignorance is dangerous and breeds hate and division. Since their inception, public libraries have worked to combat these forces simply by making all perspectives and ideas accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance.”

While book banning has long been attempted and fought by public libraries, the topic has been in the news even more than usual lately. The American Library Association announced this month that they tracked 729 challenges to 1,597 individual library, school and university books in 2021—more than double the challenges tracked in 2019. The books being challenged often focus on race, LGBTQ+ issues, religion, and history.

“All people have the right to read or not read what they want,” Marx added. “We are all entitled to make those choices. But to protect those freedoms, the books and information must remain available. Any effort to eliminate those choices stands in opposition to freedom of choice, and we cannot let that happen.”



Publishers Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers and Scholastic partnered with the New York Public Library on the initiative. 

The Brooklyn Public Library launched a similar initiative this month, Books Unbanned, which offers resources for teens who want to fight book banning. The library's website features a variety of ways teens can get involved in the cause. Teens in NYC can join the library’s Intellectual Freedom Teen Council to combat censorship. Additionally, they can read the library’s “always available” books that have recently been contested. 

For a limited time, people ages 13-21 outside of New York State can apply for a free BPL eCard, which provides access to the library’s full eBook collection and learning databases. More information is available on the website. 

How to Access the New York Public Library's Unbanned Books

The selection of unbanned books can be browsed, borrowed and read on any iOS or Android device via SimplyE, the library's free e-reader app. 

To access the books:

  • Download The New York Public Library’s free SimplyE app 

  • Verify that you are at least 13 years old

  • Locate The Books For All collection

  • Locate unbanned books”within that collection

  • Browse, check out, and read desired books from any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet 

For more information, visit nypl.org/spotlight/books-for-all

Main image courtesy New York Public Library.
 

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Author: Barbara Russo is a freelance writer who holds a bachelor's degree in communications from the City University of New York. She enjoys playing guitar, following current events, and hanging out with her pet rabbits. See More

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