Public libraries in New York City have taken steps to fight book banning. The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) launched a program called “Books UnBanned” that will provide eBooks for free to teens and young adults across the country. And the New York Public Library (NYPL) launched the “Books for All” program that has converted some of the popular banned books into eBooks.
In recent times, attempts to ban books have increased. According to the American Library Association, in 2021 alone, there were 729 attempts to ban 1,579 books.
“Brooklyn Public Library stands firmly against censorship and for the principles of intellectual freedom—the right of every individual to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction,” said Nick Higgins, chief librarian at BPL. “Limiting access or providing one-sided information is a threat to democracy itself.”
“These recent instances of censorship and book banning are extremely disturbing and amount to an all-out attack on the very foundation of our democracy,” New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx said.
“Knowledge is power; ignorance is dangerous and breeds hate and division. Since their inception, public libraries have worked to combat these forces simply by making all perspectives and ideas accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance.”
BPL’s “Books UnBanned” initiative will provide digital library cards to Americans aged 13 to 21. The digital library cards will allow access to the library’s over 100 databases and its collection of 200,000 audiobooks and 350,000 eBooks.
There is a selection of popular banned books that will be available without wait times for the card holders.
NYPL has partnered with publishers Macmillian, Scholastic, and the Hachette Book Group in its “Books for All” initiative, where banned books have been converted to eBooks. Until May, the books will be available with no fines or wait times.
The collection can be accessed through the NYPL’s free SimplyE app, in the “Books For All collection.”