Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

September 25−October 2, 2010

Banned Books Week is held annually to draw attention to the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Libraries, publishers, booksellers and others use the last week in September to honor the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Come to the Luria Library to learn more, see some books on display which have been challenged or banned, and let us know what you think.



Each year, the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom compiles a list of the top ten most frequently challenged books in order to inform the public about censorship in libraries and schools. The ALA condemns censorship and works to ensure free access to information.

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. The number of challenges reflects only incidents reported. We estimate that for every reported challenge, four or five remain unreported. Therefore, we do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges.

Background Information from 2001 to 2009

Over the past nine years, American libraries were faced with 4,312 challenges.

  • 1,413 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,125 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 897challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 514 challenges due to “violence”
  • 344 challenges due to “homosexuality”; and

1,502 of these challenges (approximately 34%) were in classrooms; 33% were in school libraries; 23% (or 1,032) took place in public libraries.  There were 100 challenges to college classes; and only 29 to academic libraries.  There are isolated cases of challenges to materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and student groups.  The majority of challenges were initiated by parents (almost exactly 48%), while patrons and administrators followed behind (10% each).

Further, 109 materials were challenged because they were “anti-family,” and an additional 269 were challenged because of their “religious viewpoints.”