This is the "Censorship and Banned Books--the Basics" page of the "Banned Books" guide.
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Banned Books  

Resources on banned/challenged books and intellectual freedom.
Last Updated: May 19, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Censorship and Banned Books--the Basics Print Page

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Libraries and Intellectual Freedom

[Image: poster, "Books are weapons in the war of ideas," with illustration of a Nazi book-burning and quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt in favor of intellectual freedom.  Image via Library of Congress.]

Every year, hundreds of books in public libraries and schools are challenged or removed on a variety of grounds.  Even unsuccessful challenges are a tremendous drain on an organization's resources, and can create a chilling effect when it comes to library collections and school assignments--effectively limiting, without your consent, what you get to see, hear, read, and think.

Fortunately, public libraries in the United States have a proud tradition of upholding intellectual freedom--but you can help, through awareness and advocacy.  This LibGuide will share notable moments in the history of censorship, information about current censorship efforts in the United States and abroad, and resources that provide news and information about intellectual freedom.


Who is Censored Most?

Robert Mapplethorpe, "Ken Moody and Robert Sherman," 1984, courtesy the Whitney Museum of Art

[Image: b/w photograph of a black man and a white man in profile.  Robert Mapplethorpe, "Ken Moody and Robert Sherman," 1984, courtesy the Whitney Museum of Art]

Censorship and intellectual freedom are problems that affect our entire society, but they are not aimed at all groups equally.  Materials that challenge existing, deeply-entrenched prejudices are the most likely to be challenged.  In recent years, materials featuring positive or neutral information about persons who identify as lesbian, bisexual, gay, trans*, or queer have been challenged with the greatest frequency.  Libraries, publicly-funded artworks, social media, sex-ed classes, educational internet access, and even large retailers have been sites of censorship on these grounds.  Freedom of speech has greater ramifications than our entertainment choices; it affects who is considered truly a member of society.


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