American Library Association says book ban challenges in 2023 broke new record

A record number of books were challenged in school and public libraries in 2023, according to the American Library Association (ALA).

The ALA announced Thursday that 2023 saw 4,240 unique book titles targeted for censorship, up 65 percent from the previous record in 2022 of 2,571 unique titles.

“The reports from librarians and educators in the field make it clear that the organized campaigns to ban books aren’t over, and that we must all stand together to preserve our right to choose what we read,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

Among the more than 4,000 books targeted for censorship, the ALA documented 1,247 demands to remove library books, materials and resources.

The organization highlighted four trends it saw in 2023, including a rise in censorship efforts against public libraries.

In 2023, titles targeted at public libraries increased by 92 percent, while at school libraries it increased by 11 percent.

Groups often targeted dozens to hundreds of books at a time, according to the ALA, along with 47 percent of the targeted books relating to people of color or the LGBTQ community.

More than 100 book titles were targeted in 17 states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

“Because many book challenges are not reported to the ALA or covered by the press, the 2023 data compiled by ALA represents only a snapshot of book censorship throughout the year. A challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in the collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from the library,” ALA said in its statement.

The ALA previously launched its “Unite Against Book Bans” initiative to fight back against these efforts and will announce its list of the most censored books on April 8 for the Right to Read Day of National Library Week.

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