The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has released new preliminary data documenting a continued uptick in censorship attempts in libraries during the first eight months of 2023.
Between January 1 and August 31, 2023, OIF reported 695 attempts to censor library materials and services and documented challenges to 1,915 unique titles. The vast majority of challenges were to books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Of particular note was the rise in challenges in public libraries, which accounted for 49% of those OIF documented, compared to 16% during the same reporting period.
The Ohio County Public Library, through its Lunch With Books program, invited staff, patrons, and community leaders to help us create videos in support of the American Library Association's "Stand for the Banned Read-Out."
Our first video features artist and longtime librarian Cheryl Ryan Harshman reading from Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret."
Our second video features poet Allison Davis and history professor Ian Lanzillotti reading from George Orwell's "1984."
Our third video features OCPL's archivist and assistant director Laura Carroll reading "And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson (Author), Peter Parnell (Author), Henry Cole (Illustrator).
Our fourth video eatures OCPL Director Amy Kastigar reading from Alice Walker's "The Color Purple."
Our fifth video features actor Vincent Marshall reading from John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men."
Our sixth video features OCPL Outreach Coordinator Julia Bachmann reading from Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale."
Our seventh video features author and professor Dr. Christina Fisanick reading from Tony Morrison's "Beloved."
Our final video features West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman reading from James Joyce's "Ulyssess."
Watch our 2022 Lunch With Books program for Banned Books Week 2022, a panel discussion of Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-Prize winning "Maus" (1986) and its sequel, "Maus II" (1991). The author's parents were survivors of the Auschwitz concentration camp. In the book, Jews are depicted as mice (thus the title) and Nazis as cats. The panel was comprised of Temple Shalom's Rabbi Joshua Lief, history professor Dr. Jeff Rutherford, Linsly School English teacher Dr. Darin McGinnis (also a professor of philosophy), and Mrs. Judith Olsavsky (former head of Linsly's English department).
What is Banned Books Week?
Launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries, "Banned Books Week" is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. According to bannedbooksweek.org, It highlights the value of free and open access to information by bringing together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
OCPL appreciates the generosity of patrons in donating books, historical materials, and other library materials. Due to the number of items donated, limited staff, and limited space to house materials, the OCPL must restrict the donations accepted. We welcome donations and encourage reading our Donation Policies before donating: