Some of the commonly banned books in the US will be made available for free by the New York Public Library (NYPL).
NYPL announced the project it’ll conduct in partnership with the publishers Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers and Scholastic, as a response to increasing attempts to ban books across the nation.
The project will offer four books -Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak”, Kacen Callender’s “King and the Dragonflies”, “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, and J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” – through the Books for All Collection.
The books at the NYPL are typically available only to New Yorkers with a library card, but they’ll be available to all via the NYPL’s e-reader app, which will offer unlimited downloads through May with or without a library card.
NYPL President Tony Marx stressed in a statement that they’re extremely disturbed by the recent instances of both attempted and successful book banning that amount to an all-out attack on the very foundation of the US democracy.
Marx noted that all people have the right to read or not read what they want and any effort to eliminate those choices stands in opposition to freedom of choice, underscoring that the library’s role is to make sure no perspective, no idea, no identity is erased.
The NYPL added that although making these books available shouldn’t feel like an act of defiance, it sadly is and they’re proud to be part of it.
Bans are primarily on titles that explore race, LGBTQ+ issues, religion, and history as the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom noted after tracking over 729 attempted bans of 1,597 books in 2021.
Last year ALA report registered over 700 “challenges” to the library, school, and university materials, the most since at least 2000 when it started tracking them.