The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is thwarting the ban on certain books by allowing anyone in the United States between the ages of 13 and 21 to apply for a digital library card. This gives teens and young adults, regardless of their location in the United States, access to the library’s entire eBook collection.
The initiative, called Books Unbanned, is fighting what the BPL describes as an “increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books covering a wide range of subjects from library shelves”. According to the American Library Association (ALA), a total of 729 pounds were disputed in 2021, which means that someone or a group tried to ban these titles from public libraries.
This led to 1,597 challenges or removals of individual books, most of which were written by or about black or LGBTQIA+ people and targeted a teenage audience. In Llano, Texas, books including that of Maurice Sendak In the kitchen at night were pulled from the shelves, and the head of the city’s governing body, Ron Cunningham, questioned whether the city should even have libraries, according to emails obtained via public record requests by The Washington Post. Further north in Granbury, Texas, the Granbury Independent School District removed more than 100 books, then return them to the library system after criticism from students and the ACLU.
In addition to library cards available to anyone between the ages of 13 and 21 in the United States, the Brooklyn Public Library also made a selection of ebooks and audiobooks which are frequently prohibited or challenged at other “always available” locations for library cardholders. You can see a full list of frequently challenged books (and why they were challenged) on the ALA website.