NYPL Launches New Anti-Censorship Campaign

New York Public Library's new "Books for All" campaign launches during Banned Books Week 2023 and seeks to engage teens and young adults.

NYPL Books for All logoNew York Public Library (NYPL) recently announced the launch of “Books for All,” an anti-censorship campaign set to begin during Banned Books Week 2023 (October 1-7). The Books for All campaign was developed in response to the alarming rise in book bans and material challenges that libraries currently face.

Books for All will include a new national Teen Banned Book Club, teen writing contest and programming that highlights the ways book bans threaten the freedom of expression, disrupt the free flow of ideas and undermine democracy. NYPL will partner with the American Library Association’s Unite Against Book Bans initiative to reach youth and students across the United States. In a statement to LJ, Siva Ramakrishnan, NYPL Director of Young Adult Programs and Services remarked, “We have done anti-censorship campaigns before, but this year we have put a real focus on teen readers. We know that many of the books being challenged represent the perspectives of people of color and LGBTQ+ people. It is so important for teens to be able to see themselves and their journeys in the characters of the novels they read. This affirms their experiences, and it affirms their humanity. However, it’s equally important for teens to be able to read about people who are different from them – this builds empathy for others, and broadens their understanding of our culturally rich, diverse country.”

The Teen Banned Book Club will offer open access to select young adult titles that have been the subject of book bans via NYPL’s SimplyE app. The first book in the book club is Mark Oshiro’s “Each of Us a Desert.” The book will be available for download for anyone aged 13 and over—regardless of whether they have an NYPL library card—beginning October 2 through November 30. Through a partnership with Macmillan Publishers, the Library will offer unlimited access to the book, which means no waiting times. A new Teen Banned Book Club title will be announced every two months at nypl.org/booksforall.

Through a partnership with 826 National, the hub of the largest youth writing network in the nation, the Books for All teen writing competition will invite youth ages 13-19 to submit an essay describing what the freedom to read means to them. The deadline for submissions is December 22. Winners will be published in a special edition of NYPL’s Teen Voices magazine and a grand prize winner will receive a $500 cash prize.

“In America today our basic freedoms are under attack: the freedom to choose what to read, to learn about new ideas and experiences, to see and understand more about ourselves and others. A vocal minority seeks to censor not just books, but the people in those books, because they find them uncomfortable. We know that stories are powerful and can shape our lives, open our eyes, and change the world but unlike advocates of book banning, we believe that’s a good thing and that free people have the right to choose for themselves,” said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx.

According to an NYPL spokesperson, Books for All will become NYPL’s longest running anti-censorship campaign, beginning October 1, 2023 and running through Pride Month in June 2024.

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Hallie Rich

Hallie Rich


Hallie Rich is Editor-in-Chief of Library Journal.

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