National Library Week (April 23 – 29, 2023) is a time to celebrate our nation’s libraries, library workers’ contributions and promote library use and support. The theme for National Library Week 2023 is “There’s More to the Story,” illustrating the fact that in addition to the books in library collections, available in a variety of formats, libraries offer so much more. Many libraries now lend items like museum passes, games, musical instruments, and tools. Library programming brings communities together for entertainment, education, and connection through book clubs, storytimes, movie nights, crafting classes, and lectures. And library infrastructure advances communities, providing internet and technology access, literacy skills, and support for businesses, job seekers, and entrepreneurs.
The American Library Association (ALA) kicks off National Library Week with the release of its State of America’s Libraries Report, including the list of Top Ten Most Challenged Books of 2022
National Library Week Events
Monday, April 24: Right to Read Day, a day for readers, advocates, and library lovers to take action to protect, defend, and celebrate the right to read. State of America’s Libraries Report released. Tuesday, April 25:National Library Workers Day, a day for library staff, users, administrators, and Friends groups to recognize the valuable contributions made by all library workers. Wednesday, April 26: National Library Outreach Day (formerly National Bookmobile Day), a day to celebrate library outreach and the dedicated library professionals who are meeting their patrons where they are. Thursday, April 27:Take Action for Libraries Day, a day to rally advocates to support libraries.
Find more information, downloadable assets, and much more here.
ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom tracks attempts to ban or restrict access to books. More than 273 titles were challenged or banned in 2020, with increasing demands to remove books that address racism and racial justice or those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color. As with previous years, LGBTQ+ content also dominated the list.
George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and their negative effect on students.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an antipolice message.
ALA also analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on American libraries in their State of America’s Libraries Report 2021, with Director of Communications and Marketing Office Stephanie Hlywak noting that “Nothing about 2020 was business as usual in any part of American society, and libraries and their workers, users, and services were all deeply impacted by the pandemic.”
Libraries proved resilient in the pandemic, adapting to a new way of business and finding novel ways to serve their communities amid shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and other challenges. Many libraries became tech hubs for remote learning, guiding teachers, students, and parents in the use of new technologies and tools.
Banned Books Week is an annual event that highlights the value of free and open access to information. The event is supported by a coalition of organizations dedicated to free expression, including American Booksellers for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Amnesty International USA, Association of University Presses, Authors Guild, Banned Books Week Sweden, Children’s Book Council, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), Freedom to Read Foundation, GLAAD, Index on Censorship, Little Free Library, National Book Foundation, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Council of Teachers of English, PEN America, People For the American Way Foundation, PFLAG, and Project Censored. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Banned Books Week also receives generous support from HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Random House.