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Record number of demands made to ban or censor books in 2022: Report

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(NEW YORK) — A record-breaking 1,269 demands were made to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since the American Library Association began collecting data over 20 years ago, the association said.

A record 2,571 unique books were targeted for censorship in 2022, a 38% increase from 2021 when 1,858 titles were targeted.

“Of the overall number of books challenged, 90% were part of attempts to censor multiple titles,” the ALA said. “Of the books challenged, 40% were in cases involving 100 or more books.”

In 2021, there were 729 attempts to ban or restrict library materials, up from 156 attempts in 2020, according to the ALA.

“Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community and people of color,” the ALA said in a press release.

The most frequently challenged title was challenged 151 times. While 144 titles received nine or more challenges. 

This is an uptick from data collected between 2011 to 2020, when the most frequently challenged title of the year received an average of eight challenges.

“Overwhelmingly, we’re seeing these challenges come from organized censorship groups that target local library board meetings to demand removal of a long list of books they share on social media,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom.

“Their aim is to suppress the voices of those traditionally excluded from our nation’s conversations, such as people in the LGBTQIA+ community or people of color,” Caldwell-Stone said.

The books challenged include 550 children’s titles and 1,604 young adult titles.

Of the reported book challenges, 58% targeted books and materials in school libraries, classroom libraries or school curricula.

“ALA began documenting the book challenges reported to us over two decades ago because we want to shine a light on the threat of censorship facing readers and entire communities. Book challenges distract from the core mission of libraries: to provide access to information,” ALA President Lessa Kanani’opua Pelayo-Lozada said in a statement. “While a vocal minority stokes the flames of controversy around books, the vast majority of people across the nation are using life-changing services that public and school libraries offer. Our nation cannot afford to lose the library workers who lift up their communities and safeguard our First Amendment freedom to read.”

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