New York City’s Three Public Library Systems Announce the Launch of the NYC Banned Books Challenge
From a Joint Announcement:
The City’s three public library systems are taking a stand against censorship with a new Banned Books Challenge: 10 banned or challenged books that expert librarians recommend New Yorkers borrow and read.
To get the city started, Brooklyn Public Library, The New York Public Library (which serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island), and Queens Public Library are making one of the recommended books—popular YA title and 2021 National Book Award winner Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo—available with no waits via their free e-reader apps through June 26.
Additional physical copies of the book—featured on The New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens of 2021 list—will also be available systemwide; some branches will also host book club discussions about the book specifically targeted at teens (as many banned and challenged books are YA titles, and teens have been particularly impacted by the isolation of the pandemic).
The 10 titles include:
- The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
- Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan
- Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
- All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
- Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
- This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
The Banned Books Challenge is being launched as a statement against the growing national trend of book bans. The American Library Association (ALA) recently announced that it tracked an “unprecedented” number of challenges to library, school, and university materials in 2021: 729 challenges to 1,597 individual books. This is more than double the challenges tracked in 2019. The books being challenged often focus on race, LGBTQ+ issues, religion, and history.
Open access to books and information is the core mission of Brooklyn Public Library and an essential component for a thriving democracy. Reading encourages critical thinking, introduces us to diverse viewpoints and perhaps mostly importantly, helps young people learn to respect one another and themselves. So we are especially delighted to launch the NYC Banned Book Challenge with the award-winning title Last Night at the Telegraph Club, a poignant story about love and identity,” said Linda E. Johnson, President of The Brooklyn Public Library.
“The Library’s role is to make sure no perspective, no idea, no identity is erased,” said Anthony W. Marx, president of The New York Public Library. “To ensure free and open access to knowledge and information. Book bans are in direct conflict with that noble mission, and we cannot be silent. The Banned Books Challenge is just one way we can bring people together and shine a light on this issue. We hope as many New Yorkers as possible will participate, learn and understand each other, and then do what we all must do: exercise our freedom to read by exploring the library and reading as many books as possible. Learn. Grow. Be uncomfortable. Enjoy. That’s the best way to combat censorship, and the Library is here to support those efforts.”
“As the most democratic and open institutions in the country, public libraries are committed to deepening our understanding of ourselves and one another, and to opening minds to diverse points of view,” said Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “With this citywide effort, we hope to encourage New Yorkers to exercise their freedom to grow, learn and discover by reading these books and to take a stand against censorship.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.