What you can do to find banned books in libraries

Aren Lau knows what it means to sneak into controversial books.

The 17-year-old moved from Georgia in his freshman year of high school to live with his father in New York City. He says that at least two of the three books he’s currently reading were trouble back home.

“I know the internet is there and obviously it’s very useful for kids to get access to things that they can’t get to at school, but a lot of times the kids in these conservative schools are also in very conservative homes,” says Lau.

Books have been banned in American school libraries in record numbers, led largely by lawmakers and conservative activists. This week, among libraries and anti-censorship groups Banned Books Week To draw attention to the growing issue. More than 1,651 individual titles were banned from schools between January and August alone according to pen americaIncluding “The beloved” Written by Toni Morrison Pride: The Harvey Milk Story and the Science of the Rainbow by Rob Sanders and “Sulwe,” A children’s book written by Lupita Nyong’o.

Demand for many of those same titles is only growing online, as educators and librarians try to fill the void with internet-based resources. Some libraries have removed physical copies of controversial books, but still offer them as digital lending through apps like Libyan. Meanwhile, some Lawmakers are chasing Online technology used by libraries, hoping to block certain content.

A book about sex or racism may not be allowed in your school, local library, or even in your home. But online, it can be found as an e-book in another library, less legally on torrent sites or for purchase at any online bookstore. The concepts in this book, which some lawmakers or parents consider to be too dangerous for young minds, are freely available on educational websites and Wikipedia, summarized on social media and documented in key articles.

It seems that pulling a physical book from a school library should be simple, when there are online alternatives. The reality is more complicated. Searching for books requires effort and access to the internet without filtering.

Linda E says Johnson, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library: “The truth is if you’re an adventurous teen and you want a version of ‘gender’, you’ll have it.” “Either elected officials, parents, or school administrators are naive or something else is at play.”

The Brooklyn Public Library is at the center of the national battle between restricting and expanding access to books for teens. In April, I launched a file Unblocked books The program, which offers free online access to its entire collection of 13-21-year-olds who email. Johnson says he did It has already issued more than 5,100 cards and examined 20,000 items as part of the programme. The program is independently funded, which is why it can offer books to people out of state.

Simply directing students to the program site actually created a problem for one teacher. In August, a high school English teacher in Norman, Oklahoma, was sanctioned and then resigned after posting a QR code in her Brooklyn-related classroom. The state has one of the strictest laws in the country against teaching students about race and gender.

Like many attempts to ban books, this incident created some kind of error Streisand effectExaggerating the very thing she was trying to silence. Brooklyn has seen an app boom and QR codes are starting to pop up online and even on Norman lawn signs. Johnson says the library They can see what’s happening in different states just by paying attention to their location – there are spikes in demand in the districts after schools tried to ban addresses.

Not every teen has open access to, or even knows about, these resources. The ban in schools and libraries affects students, other than the ability to find individual books.

“In theory, the Internet and the access it provides give the appearance that people can still access books. I think what we missed is something tangible and irreplaceable about a library,” said Jonathan Friedman, who directs the Freedom of Expression and Education Program at PEN America. Contains books.” “The whole idea of ​​the school library is to encourage literacy, exploration, and access to information.”

For five decades, the book “Our bodies, our selves” He was fighting bans in schools and libraries. The educational book about women’s sexuality and health was simultaneously labeled obscene and used by women to obtain the kind of information they could not find elsewhere about everything from puberty to rape.

Stopped publishing in 2018 but re-released in September as a file All-online resources Focuses on health, sexuality and reproductive justice. The site’s ban history was one reason why regulators were keen to create a site that was free and open to anyone on the Internet, says Amy Ajejian, executive director and professor of sociology at Suffolk University in Boston.

“I think getting information online is definitely “It’s useful for people who are looking for forbidden things,” Ajijian said. “But there is so much the library can offer that the Internet cannot make up for.”

Banned Books Week is an annual event to raise awareness of banned or objectionable books. Local libraries usually release books that have been banned in the past and host events.

“It was weird for a while, every library has a display,” said Johnson, president of the Brooklyn Public Library.

This year, libraries and organizations such as PEN America, American Library Association And the The National Coalition Against Censorship They hope to inspire more activism and greater resistance to organized attempts to block teens’ access to books – even from teens themselves.

“There is an effort to change the way information is truly accessible to the country as a whole PEN America’s Friedman said. “And in many places, students now have more freedom to speak publicly than teachers and librarians.”

Currently, teens search for books and resources online and increasingly find themselves in the public library – but this time online and in Brooklyn, New York.

Lau, a high school student, volunteers with the Brooklyn Public Library and hopes to help children who struggled as he did.

“If I had this [program] By that time I would have felt a lot less lonely,” Lau said.

Leave a Comment