May 19, 2022

ALA Releases 2014 State of America’s Libraries Report Including List of Most Challenged Books of 2013

The full text report (HTML) is available here. A PDF version is “coming soon” according to ALA.

Highlights From the Report (via ALA News Release and Report Intro):

  • Libraries continue to transform to meet society’s changing needs, and more than 90 percent of the respondents in an independent national survey said that libraries are important to the community.
  • More than 90 percent of traditional public schools have a school library, but public schools continue to struggle with the impact of funding cuts. For public school libraries, that means that professional staffing has been targeted for cuts nationwide.
  • More and more public libraries are turning to the use of web technologies, including websites, online account access, blogs, rich site summary (RSS) feeds, catalog search boxes, sharing interfaces, Facebook and Twitter.
  • The economic downturn is continuing at most institutions of higher learning, and academic librarians are working to transform programs and services by re-purposing space and redeploying staff in the digital resources environment.
  • President Obama signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill in January that will fund the federal government through September and partially restore funding to the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) — the primary source of annual funding for libraries in the federal budget — that were dramatically cut in the 2013 fiscal year under sequestration.
  • Current trends in library building and renovation include open-plan space, which provides flexibility for future modifications; semi-private space, which recognizes that open-plan space may not be appropriate for every activity or suit the taste of every user; and technology-rich space, which should permeate the library and enable users to be the best learners they can.
  • The transformation of libraries in terms of outreach and diversity takes many forms, with initiatives targeting an ever-wider range of underserved populations—including those who would become librarians.

Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2013

1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey

2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

4. Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

6. A Bad Boy Can Be Good for A Girl  by Tanya Lee Stone

7. Looking for Alaska by John Green

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

9. Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

10. Bone (series) by Jeff Smith

A Few Thoughts by infoDOCKET’s Gary Price

  • It’s important to also point out that while the 90% number ALA is highlighting is both noteworthy and positive the same Pew survey also reported that 54% of the U.S. population had used a public library in the past year, down 5% vs. the previous year. The report also found (as it did in previous years) that while many support the idea that libraries are important to the community many current users don’t have a good idea about what the library offers.
  • We hope ALA spends some time looking at how the school library situation got to this point. In other words, why hasn’t advocacy been stronger to this point? We’ve seen the current situation brewing for many years.
  • Availability of ebooks is improving but what about the price libraries pay for some of these ebook titles? Access is one thing but libraries also need to be able to afford these purchases.  The report makes no mention about the continuing development of ebook subscription services for popular titles that continued during 2013 and what it might mean for public libraries in the future.
  • The report points out the launch of ALA’s “Liberty, Privacy & Surveillance” web site. This new resource provides an “overview of the deliberative process and outlines ways that the public can demand government oversight and transparency from legislators.” However, the report makes no mention of any issues involving library, library vendor, and library user privacy. What work is ALA doing in this area to share best practices, educating librarians so they can educate library users? Reader privacy is noted on the ALA ethics statement yet ALA has little to say about making how ebook services (services that libraries market and pay for) as transparent as possible to staff and end users. ALA and the entire library community encourages transparency from others but what about from ourselves and our vendors? Why not? We’ve written about this several times including this post from June 25, 2013.

Direct to Full Text Report

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.