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"Rock Banned" Intellectual Freedom Campaign

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"Rock Banned" Intellectual Freedom Campaign

Prince George's County Memorial Library System

Advocacy & Awareness | 2023 | Top Innovator

Innovation Synopsis

The PGCMLS Communication and Outreach Division developed a public awareness campaign called "Rock Banned" to inform customers about intellectual freedom and draw attention to the increase in book challenges nationally. The campaign included digital content, an advocacy call to action and keynote event with Pulitzer-winning writer Leonard Pitts Jr.


According to ALA, there were 781 attempts to ban/ restrict library resources and 1,835 unique titles targeted in 2022. PGCMLS staff and programs have been targeted online, branches have been vandalized and programs have been disrupted because of our LGBTQ+ programs and visible commitment to Black Lives Matter. Staff work to proactively educate and inform customers, lawmakers and staff about the central role of intellectual freedom in preserving democracy to cultivate a network of support in case of future challenges.

Key Elements of Innovation

PGCMLS activated the Rock Banned campaign through numerous points of engagement for customers on a year-round basis. Digital engagement included building an intellectual freedom advocacy call to action at, a social media campaign, and bonus content of the PGCMLS “These Books Made Me” podcast. Staff curated Rock Banned book displays with materials for all ages. Special events: keynote on "The Library's Role in a Misinformation Age" with Leonard Pitts Jr., storytimes and public Board briefings.

Achieved Outcomes

The Rock Banned campaign has engaged more than 95,000 customers in all age ranges in informal learning opportunities to deepen their understanding of the role of intellectual freedom in society, and the role of libraries in protecting democracy. The anticipatory advocacy and engagement work conducted since early 2022 has played an essential role in ensuring that customers clearly understand the Library’s stance on intellectual freedom, mitigating potential local unfounded book challenges taking place nationally.