Save the Date for Banned Books Week, September 18-24, 2022
Since 1982, libraries across the country have celebrated Banned Books Week, an event dedicated to promoting free and open access to information and individuals’ freedom to choose what they read. This year’s festivities are marked by an increased sense of urgency – the number of book bans and challenges reported to the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) rose over 300% according to The State of America’s Libraries 2022: A Report from the American Library Association (PDF).
This dramatic statistic is no coincidence as neighborhood schools and libraries become key sites for ideological struggles in an increasingly polarized country. (Of the bans and challenges reported to the OIF in 2021, 44% took place in school libraries and 37% took place in public libraries.) Not surprisingly, the content of the most frequently challenged books mirrors the topics at the center of this polarization: LGBTQ+ rights, anti-racism, reproductive rights. The most frequently challenged book of the year was Gender Queer, a graphic memoir by nonbinary author Maia Kobabe. This includes a high profile (ultimately failed) attempt to remove the book from high school libraries in suburban Downers Grove. Take a look at the other titles on the Top 10 Most Challenged Books lists for the past few years and you’ll quickly notice a pattern: there is an organized push to remove books by and about LGBTQ+ and BIPOC (especially Black) people from library shelves.
At the DePaul University Library, we are committed to the idea that everyone should be free to choose what they read and free to see their identities and experiences reflected in their local library. We’re excited to put that commitment into action during Banned Books Week and throughout the year. We hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, September 21 as we welcome back City Lit Theater for Books on the Chopping Block! – a performance of dramatic readings from the most challenged books in the past year. We also hope you’ll join us for the other activities we’ve got planned, including a special exhibit on the John T. Richardson Library’s first floor (opening September 2022).
Speak Out Against Censorship
Most importantly, we’d love to hear perspectives from our fellow DePaulians on the topic of book bans and challenges and to share those perspectives with our broader university community. Please take a second to fill out this form to share your experience with book challenges and tell us about the books that have had a significant impact on your identity and worldview. If you do choose to share your thoughts with us prior to Friday, September 23, you’ll be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a prize.
If you’re interested in getting more involved with fighting book bans in your community, check out these resources from the American Library Association’s Unite Against Book Bans campaign.
See you in September!