The Brooklyn Public Library Gives Every Teenager in the U.S. Free Access to Censored Books

We have cov­ered it before: school dis­tricts across the Unit­ed States are increas­ing­ly cen­sor­ing books that don’t align with con­ser­v­a­tive, white-washed visions of the world. Art Spiegel­man’s Maus, The Illus­trat­ed Diary of Anne Frank, Alice Walk­er’s The Col­or Pur­ple, Toni Mor­rison’s The Bluest Eye, and Harp­er Lee’s To Kill a Mock­ing­bird–these are some of the many books get­ting pulled from library shelves in Amer­i­can schools. In response to this con­cern­ing trend, the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library has made a bold move: For a lim­it­ed time, the library will offer a free eCard to any per­son aged 13 to 21 across the Unit­ed States, allow­ing them free access to 500,000 dig­i­tal books, includ­ing many cen­sored books. The Chief Librar­i­an for the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library, Nick Hig­gins said:

A pub­lic library rep­re­sents all of us in a plu­ral­is­tic soci­ety we exist with oth­er peo­ple, with oth­er ideas, oth­er view­points and per­spec­tives and that’s what makes a healthy democ­ra­cy — not shut­ting down access to those points of view or silenc­ing voic­es that we don’t agree with, but expand­ing access to those voic­es and hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions and ideas that we agree with and ideas that we don’t agree with.

And he added:

This is an intel­lec­tu­al free­dom to read ini­tia­tive by the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library. You know, we’ve been pay­ing atten­tion to a lot of the book chal­lenges and bans that have been tak­ing place, par­tic­u­lar­ly over the last year in many places across the coun­try. We don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly expe­ri­ence a whole lot of that here in Brook­lyn, but we know that there are library patrons and library staff who are fac­ing these and we want­ed to fig­ure out a way to step in and help, par­tic­u­lar­ly for young peo­ple who are see­ing, some books in their library col­lec­tions that may rep­re­sent them, but they’re being tak­en off the shelves.

As for how to get the Brook­lyn Pub­lic Library’s free eCard, their Books Unbanned web­site offers the fol­low­ing instruc­tions: “indi­vid­u­als ages 13–21 can apply for a free BPL eCard, pro­vid­ing access to our full eBook col­lec­tion as well as our learn­ing data­bas­es. To apply, email” In short, send them an email.

You can find a list of Amer­i­ca’s most fre­quent­ly banned books at the web­site of the Amer­i­can Library Asso­ci­a­tion.

Note: We first post­ed about this ini­tia­tive dur­ing the dog days of last August. But it seemed worth men­tion­ing this pro­gram while school’s in full swing. Hence why we’re flag­ging Books Unbanned again.

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Relat­ed Con­tent 

Texas School Board Bans Illus­trat­ed Edi­tion of The Diary of Anne Frank

Ten­nessee School Board Bans Maus, the Pulitzer-Prize Win­ning Graph­ic Nov­el on the Holo­caust; the Book Becomes #1 Best­seller on Ama­zon

The 850 Books a Texas Law­mak­er Wants to Ban Because They Could Make Stu­dents Feel Uncom­fort­able

Umber­to Eco Makes a List of the 14 Com­mon Fea­tures of Fas­cism

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Comments (9)
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  • Linda Nolan says:

    Thank you, on behalf of all these teenagers, and any oth­ers who believe that the free­doms we enjoy are sup­port­ed by actions such as this. If we do not have or open our minds to receive knowl­edge for the pur­pose of gain­ing wis­dom by which to sur­vive in this world, what would we be left with? Read­ing, Writ­ing, and Learn­ing are the only ways to sup­port free­dom and peace, even sur­vival for the world. Thank you for stand­ing!

  • kyle says:

    Their are no banned books any­where in the US, and any human being can freely go into and any library or book­store and pur­chase any book they want. Some, very few, schools are just not teach­ing cer­tain books in their cur­ricu­lum. The idea that’s its only con­ser­v­a­tives white-wash­ing ideas is tru­ly absurd. That kind of rhetoric is the kind that spreads hate and diver­sion. If a ‘con­ser­v­a­tive’ want­ed to they can use that exact lan­guage about lib­er­als ban­ning free speech from come­di­ans and can­cel­ing peo­ple they don’t like, but that would also be spread­ing hate. There is no proof that even con­ser­v­a­tives are ban­ning books, if you would actu­al­ly lis­ten to what some peo­ple would like chil­dren not to learn about you may under­stand where they are com­ing from.

  • Terry Allen says:

    But why do some peo­ple not want chil­dren to learn now? Did these books just sud­den­ly appear?

  • kyle says:

    Not sure what you mean. Of course peo­ple want chil­dren to learn. Who does­n’t want chil­dren to learn? Teach­ers and par­ents should teach what they see as nec­es­sary, it might mean more life skills and math­e­mat­ics ect, maybe not so much sex and the holo­caust at a young age. If par­ents want to read them those kind of books thats great. Again, these books are not banned, eas­i­ly avail­able lit­er­al­ly every­where. Also the term “banned books in schools” is tossed around, but nev­er the ages of the kids in the school. Im sure a kid aged 13–21 can find Maus or To kill a Mock­ing­bird any­where (side note, these are kids grow­ing years, im sure they’re not feel­ing deprived for not read­ing Harp­er Lee, im sure they much rather read some­thing more tit­il­lat­ing lol)

  • dan k says:

    The fun­da­men­tal dif­fer­ence that you fail to see, Kyle, as do many on the right, is that when the Flori­da gov­er­nor or the Texas state school board requires books to be removed or hid­den, they’re using the polit­i­cal pow­er of the state to do so. That’s a vio­la­tion of the first amend­ment. When an enter­tain­er is ‘can­celed,’ it’s not the gov­ern­ment doing it. It’s con­sumers and pri­vate busi­ness­es doing the can­celling. There’s a dif­fer­ence. And your asser­tion that “there is no proof” is just plain wrong, though I doubt any­thing I write here will make a dif­fer­ence.

  • David Beahn says:

    Get your head out of the sand. The GoP is def­i­nite­ly ban­ning books.

  • Trent says:

    Utter non­sense. Books are not been­ing banned. It’s called age appro­pri­ate con­tent not being avail­able to young chil­dren. It you want to see banned (or not see them), go look up left­ist Ama­zon ban­ning books from their store they don’t agree with.

  • garland says:

    “Their (sic) are no banned books any­where in the US, and any human being can freely go into and (sic) any library or book­store and pur­chase any book they want”

    The arti­cle is about the effort of the Right to remove books for­mer­ly avail­able. Don’t argue seman­tics, whether it’s ‘ban­ning’ or ‘remov­ing’ or ‘hid­ing’, they are attempt­ing (and some­times) suc­ceed­ing in mak­ing them unavail­able. You say this is a class­room issue. No, it’s much more than that.

    The ALA report­ed near­ly 1,600 books in more than 700 libraries and library sys­tems across the nation were tar­get­ed by con­ser­v­a­tive groups in the year being sur­veyed. That’s 700 PUBLIC libraries that you claimed “any­one can freely” obtain read­ing mate­r­i­al.

    Well, then they can just go to book­store and buy it, right? Leav­ing aside that that dimin­ish­es the whole mis­sion of main­tain­ing FREE lend­ing libraries. The Right would have it that you can’t do that either. There is ACTIVE lit­i­ga­tion against book­stores for sell­ing cer­tain books (see that case brought against Barnes & Noble in Vir­ginia). So much for free enter­prise.

    Nice try, accus­ing the Left of doing the same thing with can­cel cul­ture (which does­n’t exist). Crit­i­ciz­ing a per­former’s speech for what­ev­er rea­son in no way ‘bans’ them and in no way sug­gests that said speech should be unlaw­ful. There is only one par­ty wants make cer­tain expres­sion unlaw­ful. ONE (hint, it ain’t the lib­er­al Left).

  • Kyle says:

    The ALA does say many books were banned between 2021 and now. But what books? They don’t say. If they did I won­der what the cri­te­ria of books ‘so called’ banned were about.

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