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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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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