The Seattle Public Library Joins Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned Initiative to Fight Censorship
release date: 04/27/2023
Teens and young adults across the country can now sign up for a Books Unbanned card that provides access to the Library’s collection of e-books and e-audiobooks.
The Seattle Public Library is joining Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned initiative to fight censorship and book banning by offering teens and young adults across the nation free access to the books in its digital collection.
Youth ages 13 to 26 who live in the United States can now sign up for a free card from The Seattle Public Library that allows them full access to the Library’s collection of e-books and e-audiobooks. The simple application takes only minutes to complete and is available at www.spl.org/BooksUnbanned.
“In the face of a growing national movement to censor what children and young adults read, we are proud to stand with Brooklyn Public Library in protecting intellectual freedom and the right to read,” said The Seattle Public Library’s Chief Librarian Tom Fay. “This movement and trend must be countered by doing what public libraries are supposed to do – providing free and unrestricted access to information, ideas and diverse viewpoints.”
“For the last year, Brooklyn Public Library has provided access to books from all points of view to thousands of young people across the county. With an alarming number of book bans, we are pleased to welcome The Seattle Public Library to the Books Unbanned program so that together, with all of our might, we can fight for the enduring democratic principle of unfettered equal access to books and ideas from all perspectives,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library.
Books Unbanned helps counter the series of increasingly coordinated and effective efforts to remove books from public and school libraries across the nation. In March 2023, The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom reported that 2022 saw a record number of demands to censor library books and resources. More than 2,500 unique titles were targeted for censorship, a 38% increase since in 2021.
Of the reported book challenges, “58% targeted books and materials in school libraries, classroom libraries or school curricula; 41% of book challenges targeted materials in public libraries,” the American Library Association’s press release said, and “the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color.”
The Seattle Public Library’s announcement coincides with the American Library Association’s National Library Week, April 23 to April 29, during which the American Library Association has highlighted the 13 most challenged books in the U.S., among other initiatives.
“We hope that teens and young adults go to www.spl.org/BooksUnbanned to sign up for a card and use it to explore and check out books about any topic they wish,” said Andrew Harbison, The Seattle Public Library’s Director of Library Programs and Services. “Every individual has the right to decide what materials they choose to read and to explore new viewpoints. And parents and caregivers have the right to guide their children to materials that best serve the needs of their families.”
Harbison also emphasized that the Books Unbanned card is for teens and young adults who live outside the Seattle area and are not eligible for a full-access card at The Seattle Public Library. Seattle residents can – and should – apply for a full-access Library card: Information and applications in multiple languages are available at https://www.spl.org/card.
HOW TO SIGN UP FOR BOOKS UNBANNED
The Seattle Public Library’s Books Unbanned card will be good for one year and is designed to complement resources that exist for teens in their local communities. Youth who sign up can check out a maximum of 10 titles at a time and place a maximum of five holds.
The Books Unbanned card provides access to all titles in the Library’s OverDrive collection of more than 700,000 e-books and e-audiobooks. The Library has also created several lists highlighting books for young adults that have been frequently challenged, available on its Books Unbanned page, along with links to other materials for teens and young adults.
Cardholders can place holds and check out e-books and e-audiobooks on the Library’s online catalogue or through the very popular Libby app.
HOW BOOKS UNBANNED IS FUNDED AT THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Library’s Books Unbanned card is funded by private support through The Seattle Public Library Foundation. People interested in supporting the Books Unbanned initiative can contribute through the Foundation’s Equity & Access Fund.
“Equitable access to knowledge – for everyone – is an essential value of our library and our democracy,” said Foundation CEO Jonna Ward. “By funding the Books Unbanned card, we can help young people impacted by book bans or limits to access. The unprecedented threats to the right to read require an urgent response.”
ABOUT THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Located in one of just two UNESCO Cities of Literature in the U.S., The Seattle Public Library believes that the power of knowledge improves people's lives. We promote literacy and a love of reading as we bring people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community.
We support intellectual freedom and uphold the right of all people to freely and confidentially access information as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Contact the Library’s Ask Us service by phone at 206-386-4636 or by email or chat at www.spl.org/Ask. Staff are ready to answer questions and direct you to helpful resources and information.
ABOUT BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY
Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st-century libraries, BPL provides resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.7 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. BPL provides nearly 60,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators — from around the corner and around the world. And BPL gives patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.
Since April of 2022, 6,300 teens from all 50 states have signed up for BPL’s National Teen eCard, and have used the card for 100,000 checkouts.
ABOUT THE SEATTLE PUBLIC LIBRARY FOUNDATION
The Seattle Public Library Foundation is a nonprofit partner of the Library, providing a way for people who value libraries to contribute financial support and advocate for The Seattle Public Library, enhancing its impact on our community and ensuring its long-term vitality.
Since its founding, The Seattle Public Library Foundation has generated more than $245 million in grants and endowments that help the Library expand its collections, offer innovative programs for people of all ages, and upgrade neighborhood libraries.