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Banned Books Week

A guide to ALA's Banned Books Week with a focus on libraries, censorship, and freedom to read.

What is Censorship?

Introduction to Censorship

According to the Encyclopedia of American Government and Civics, the word censorship comes from the ancient Roman word "censor." In Rome, a censor was responsible for supervising the morals of the public. Censorship generally refers to controlled, forbidden, punished, or prohibited speech or expression. Censorship can be either explicit, such as rules or prohibitions embedded in law, or informal, such as norms and unstated cultural "oughts" that are enforced through social pressure and public expectations of the norm. They can be explicit and grounded in-laws against publishing certain forms of opinion or implicit, where intimidation instills fear in public (Genovese and Han).


Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials.- American Library Association 

Since founded in 1982, Banned Book Week has celebrated our freedom of expression and helped navigate censorship. This year the American Library Association (ALA) has made the theme of  "Censorship is Dead: Find Our Freedom to Read."

Reasons for Challenges

By the Numbers

Where do challenges take place
Who initiates a challenge?
Challenge vs. Banned
Works being Censored
Books and Beyond