Book challenges in libraries surge to new record

American Libraries logo
Joblist ad. Where job seekers and employers get results.

Stack of five library books with a post-it note that reads Request for Reconsideration

On September 19, ALA announced findings that challenges to books and other library materials and services are on pace to set a record for the third straight year in 2023. The reads, in part: “Between January 1 and August 31, ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom reported 695 attempts to censor library materials and services. Those challenges included 1,915 unique titles—a 20% increase compared with the same reporting period in 2022. The vast majority of challenges were to books written by or about a person of color or a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.”...

AL: The Scoop, Sept. 20

LeVar Burton

Beloved reading advocate, writer, and television and film star LeVar Burton will lead this year’s Banned Books Week, which takes place October 1–7. Burton is the first actor to serve as honorary chair of Banned Books Week. He will headline a live virtual conversation with Banned Books Week Youth Honorary Chair Da’Taeveyon Daniels about censorship and advocacy at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, October 4. The event will stream live on ; see for more details. Burton also of entertainers in signing a September 19 ....

ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom, Sept. 20; The Hill, Sept. 19; MoveOn, Sept. 19

Rick Riordan

Megan Bennett writes: “Rick Riordan is best known for his Greek mythology–inspired Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, which has since inspired a larger franchise. In May he released The Sun and the Star: A Nico di Angelo Adventure (Hachette) with coauthor Mark Oshiro, about the son of Hades and his boyfriend on a journey to the Underworld. And September 26 Riordan returns to his original protagonists with The Chalice of the Gods (Disney Hyperion), chronicling Percy’s efforts to get into college. Riordan spoke with American Libraries about his newest works and the longevity of Percy Jackson.”...

American Libraries Trend, Sept./Oct.



The University of Alabama Online: Get Started

Gain the skills you need for success in the growing field of library and information studies by earning your MLIS, EdS, PhD or graduate certificate through The University of Alabama Online. Tailor your coursework to the area where you want to make a difference. Focus on school libraries, archival studies, youth services, digital stewardship, or social justice and inclusivity. to enroll in the upcoming Spring or Fall 2024 cohorts!


Call Number ad

Anna Pilston (right), branch librarian at Spartanburg County (S.C.) Public Libraries’ Landrum Library, holds a Bag of Hope alongside a member of Operation Hope, a local nonprofit.

Todd Stephens writes: “Like many communities, Spartanburg County, South Carolina, has seen an increase in people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity in the wake of the pandemic. Our county has been proactive in tackling those challenges. With 10 locations spread over 819 square miles, Spartanburg County Public Library has a reputation of providing safe spaces and being community hubs, making us a natural partner in efforts to serve those in need. One of our most successful initiatives has been our version of an existing nonprofit program called Bags of Hope.”...

American Libraries Trend, Sept./Oct.

Araceli Méndez Hintermeister

Araceli Méndez Hintermeister writes: “Libraries serve as important connectors for patrons navigating how to be active citizens in their communities. By providing knowledge and resources, libraries can play a role in social change and empower patrons to comprehend and tackle issues at large. These featured books underscore the various ways libraries can help cultivate stronger societies through civic engagement and community development.”...

American Libraries column, Sept./Oct.

I Love My Librarian Award 2024 logo

Chase Ollis writes: “It’s finally September, which means summer is waning and fall is approaching. It also means only a few weeks remain to submit your nomination for the . More than 1,000 nominations are received for the award every year, so submitting a strong nomination is key to making your librarian stand out among the crowd. Here are a few tips for making your nomination the best it can be and giving your librarian their best shot at receiving the award....

I Love Libraries, Sept. 5

Latest Library Links

Waving Texas flag

Andrew Albanese writes: “Federal judge Alan D. Albright [of the US District Court for the Western District of Texas] delivered a major victory for freedom to read advocates, issuing a substantive officially blocking Texas’s controversial book rating law, H.B. 900, from taking effect. The decision comes after Albright . , H.B. 900 would have required book vendors to review and rate books for sexual content as a condition of doing business with Texas public schools.”...

Publishers Weekly, Sept. 19, Aug. 31; Office of the Texas Governor, June 12

Man's finger pointing at a digital representation of a world map.

Leo S. Lo writes: “As libraries navigate the complex landscape of artificial intelligence (AI), it is crucial that they not only adapt to the existing policies, but also actively engage with them and develop best practices for AI use. Here are some practical recommendations for libraries: Establish an AI ethics committee, advocate for inclusive policies, develop best practices for AI use, and provide AI literacy education and training. The proposed AI policies from the US, UK, European Union, Canada, and China serve as a pivotal road map for libraries navigating the intricate terrain of AI.”...

IFLA Journal, Aug. 27

Part of Columbia County Rural Library District's Dayton Library building

Kate Smith writes: “An the Columbia County (Wash.) Rural Library District has been temporarily blocked from appearing on the general election ballot. Columbia County Superior Court Commissioner Julie Karl granted the , saying there was substantial evidence of fraud [in the petition process] and good cause to temporarily block the measure to allow the claims to be investigated.” County Auditor Will Hutchens said ballots will not be printed until after the next hearing, which will be held the afternoon of September 20....

Walla Walla (Wash.) Union-Bulletin, Sept. 11, July 28

ALA news and press releases

Screencap from the first episode of Books that Shaped America, featuring C-SPAN producer Peter Slen interviewing University of Maryland History Professor Richard Bell about Thomas Paine's Common Sense

Neely Tucker writes: “Some of the most important works by Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Frederick Douglass, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston and Cesar Chavez will be the focus of a new television series being produced by C-SPAN and the Library of Congress. The 10-part series——starts on Sept. 18 and will examine 10 books by American authors published over a span of nearly 250 years and that are still influential today. It will be hosted by Peter Slen, the longtime executive producer of C-SPAN’s BookTV.”...

Library of Congress: Timeless, Sept. 18

Montage of the books on the longlist for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature

The National Book Foundation has released the longlists for its 2023 National Book Awards in five categories: , , , , and . Each longlist includes ten works. Finalists in all categories will be announced October 3, and winners will be named at a ceremony November 15. Also at the ceremony, poet will receive the 2023 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, and bookseller will receive the 2023 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. ...

National Book Foundation, Sept. 13–15

The Library of Congress in a black-and-white photo, circa 1900, by William Henry Jackson

ALA has released a new LibGuide designed to help library workers use Library of Congress (LC) digital collections in programming and educational opportunities. “,” is designed to help all types of libraries explore primary sources available from LC’s online collection and connect with their communities through programming and educational opportunities. The guide focuses on eight LC collections (Arts, Civics, Folklife, History, Literature, Maps, Military Experience, and STEM) with collection highlights and suggested program ideas that are accessible and adaptable for various library types and audiences....

ALA Public Programs Office, Sept. 18

ALA Publishing Logo

American Libraries Direct is a free electronic newsletter emailed every Wednesday to personal members of the .


Editor, AL Direct:

Direct ad inquiries to:

Send news and feedback:


All links outside the ALA website are provided for informational purposes only. Questions about the content of any external site should be addressed to the administrator of that site. .


American Libraries will not sell your email to outside parties, but your email may be shared with advertisers in this newsletter should you express interest in their products by clicking on their ads or content. If advertisers choose to communicate with you by email, they are obligated to provide you with an opportunity to opt-out from future emails in compliance with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003 and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation of 2018. Read the .


To manage your American Libraries email preferences, please click .

To unsubscribe from all American Library Association communications, click .


American Library Association, 225 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1300, Chicago, IL 60601

Higher Logic