Boston Public Library Joins Books Unbanned Initiative to Fight Censorship
The Boston Public Library (BPL) is joining the Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned initiative to fight censorship and book banning by offering teens and young adults across the nation free access to the books in its digital collection. The BPL is the third library to enter the growing network, joining Seattle Public Library.
Teens and young adults ages 13 to 26 who live in the United States can now sign up for a free eCard from the BPL, which allows them full access to the BPL’s collection of e-books and e-audiobooks. The simple application is available at bpl.org/books-unbanned.
“As we head into Banned Books Week, an annual event that highlights the value of free and open access to information, we are proud to stand with the Brooklyn Public Library and Seattle Public Library to uphold intellectual freedom and the right to read,” said BPL President David Leonard. “By joining this initiative, we embrace the opportunity to champion the principle of access for individuals across the nation who face limitations in reaching content and are unable to advocate for themselves.”
“Since we launched Books Unbanned in April of 2022, we have heard from thousands of young people across the country who are witnessing the very demise of democracy as books rejected by a few loud voices are removed from the shelves for all,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “We are excited to welcome Boston Public Library to Books Unbanned. Together, with our partners in Seattle, we will ensure that every young person in the nation has free and open access to books from all points of view.”
Books Unbanned helps counter the series of increasingly coordinated and effective efforts to remove books from public and school libraries across the nation. The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom reported that so far 2023 has seen a 20 percent increase in attempts to censor library books and resources.
The BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative is funded through private support raised by the Boston Public Library Fund, the philanthropic arm of the BPL. Individuals interested in how the Fund supports Books Unbanned can learn more at bplfund.org/booksunbanned/.
“We’re committed to supporting the Boston Public Library in building a more informed, enlightened, and inclusive society, where the power of ideas knows no boundaries,” said Paula Sakey, Executive Director of the Boston Public Library Fund. “By funding the Books Unbanned card, we can invest in a brighter future by ensuring that younger generations aren’t faced with limitations to access.”
The BPL’s Books Unbanned card is valid for one year and is designed to complement access to resources for teens in their local communities. Teens and young adults who sign up can check out a maximum of 10 titles at a time and place a maximum of 10 holds. The Books Unbanned card provides access to all titles in the BPL’s digital collection of more than 300,000 e-books and e-audiobooks. Cardholders can place holds and check out e-books and e-audiobooks on the BPL’s online catalog.
In addition to launching Books Unbanned, the BPL is hosting the event Let Freedom Read: Statewide Read-In to Fight Censorship on September 30 from 10:00am – 12:00pm at the Central Library in Copley Square. Freedom to read is a fundamental pillar of upholding democracy; during Banned Book Week, libraries across the Commonwealth will celebrate the freedom to read with a statewide read-in. Patrons are welcome to join the silent read-in and demonstrate their support in the fight against book bans.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.