From July 2022 to June 2023, PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans found 3,362 instances of individual books banned, affecting 1,557 unique titles. This represents an increase of 33% from the 2021-22 school year.
In response to these blatant attacks on freedom of expression and individuals' right to read, public libraries across North America are declaring themselves and their cities "Book Sanctuaries."
This movement began in September 2022 when the City of Chicago and the Chicago Public Library declared themselves a space for endangered stories and called for others to do the same. CPL's BookSanctuary.org calls for established sanctuaries to do at least one of the following:
- Collect and protect endangered books
- Make those books broadly accessible
- Host book talks and events, including sparking conversations about diverse characters and stories
- Educate others on the history of book banning and burning
The following are examples of ULC members that have committed to being Book Sanctuaries in their communities, protecting endangered books and keeping their ideas safe.
Click the dropdown to learn more about each library's program.
Along with Book Sanctuaries, the Books Unbanned program — founded by the Brooklyn Public Library in April of 2022 — aims to provide free access to banned and challenged books. Books Unbanned was designed in response to an increasingly coordinated and effective effort to remove books tackling a wide range of topics from library shelves. Since its creation, the Brooklyn Public Library has partnered with more urban public library systems to offer the program in different areas. Learn more below.