Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week. October 1-7.

Lake Bluff Public Library proudly recognizes Banned Books Week to honor and celebrate our freedom to read. With book challenges and censorship efforts on the rise nationwide, this year's Banned Books Week is more important than ever—and so is your support. Read on to learn more about Banned Books Week and ways that you can get involved in your community to promote reading and learning for all.

A message from Renee Grassi, Library Director

Why is Banned Books Week important?

For more than 40 years, Banned Books Week has brought communities together in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas. This initiative also spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. Book banning infringes on readers' rights and limits access to information and ideas, especially for those who cannot afford to purchase books. Now, libraries in every state are facing an unprecedented number of attempts to ban books. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week helps draw attention to the harms of censorship and the power of intellectual freedom. 

What does it mean to challenge and ban a book?

A book challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials based upon the objections of an individual person or group. A challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in the collection, or it can result in that book being restricted from access in some way.

A book ban is the removal of books from library collections.

Want to learn more about why books are challenged or banned? Take a look at the American Library Association's list of the most challenged books of 2022 or read their Banned Book FAQ.

Are books still banned? How often do book challenges and book banning happen?

Yes; books are still banned. Every year, the American Library Association (ALA) tracks hundreds of challenges in schools and in libraries across the country, and estimates that the number of unreported challenges are even higher. ALA reported the following facts about censorship efforts in 2022:

  • There were 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.

  • The unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021.

  • Censors targeted a record 2,571 unique titles in 2022, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021. Of those titles, ALA reports that the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.

Does Lake Bluff Public Library ban books?

No. According to the Library's Collection Development Policy, "the primary goal of the Library's collection is to meet the diverse informational and recreational needs of the Lake Bluff community. The Library is opposed to the removal or censorship of materials that meet the selection criteria for the collection as well as coercion to add or purchase items that do not meet selection criteria." It also states that "the Library affirms and upholds the principles established in the Freedom to Read and Freedom to View statements and the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights."

In 2020, the Lake Bluff Public Library Board of Trustees approved the organization's first Values Statement, expressively naming democracy, intellectual freedom, and diversity among the Library's core values. The statement goes on, saying "The Lake Bluff Public Library rejects views of exclusivity as antithetical to its mission and values, including censorship, racism, and prejudice. We strive to make the Library a safe and welcoming place for all patrons; we hope that this affirmation of our values further supports that effort."

The Lake Bluff Public Library is proud to support the freedom to read for all and actively works to oppose attempts at censorship and book banning.

What is Lake Bluff Public Library doing to support Banned Books Week? How can I get involved?

  • Register to attend our live Zoom event Book Challenges on the Rise: Support Your Freedom to Read on Monday, October 2 at 7 pm. This online program will discuss the current state of book challenges, Illinois’ legislative response, and the implications of censorship on communities. Featured guest speakers include Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Alexi Giannoulias.

  • Participate in our Banned Books Week Raffle. Enter our Banned Books Week Raffle any time between October 1 through October 7 for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Lake Forest Book Store.

  • Snap a photo at the library. Strike a pose with your favorite banned book or take a photo of one of the library displays to share your support. Tag the library in your social media post with the hashtag #FreePeopleReadFreely.

  • Visit the Library to pick up your free copy of American Library Association's 2022 Field Report on Banned and Challenged Books and a Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022 bookmark. 

How can I support anti-censorship efforts beyond Banned Books Week?

  • Learn how to advocate in your community to defend the right to read through United Against Book Bans, a national initiative aimed at defending intellectual freedom and fighting against censorship. 

  • Report attempts at censorship in your community using the American Library Association's confidential online form. Reporting censorship is vital to promoting and protecting intellectual freedom in libraries.

  • Promote the freedom to read year round. Discuss the issues with friends and neighbors, suggest a banned book for your local book club, and help raise awareness about censorship and book banning.

The Story Behind the Library's Fall 2023 Newsletter Cover

off the SHELF - Fall 2023 Newsletter Cover off the SHELF - Fall 2023 Newsletter Cover (Not Redacted)

In an effort to bring attention to censorship and encourage conversation about the importance of Banned Books Week, Library staff made an artistic decision to redact parts of the cover image of the Fall 2023 issue of the Library newsletter. Here is a before-and-after look of the newsletter cover with and without redactions. Each quote was purposely selected to feature a notable author discussing the importance of access to information.