The following message is sent on behalf of Tracie D. Hall, ALA Executive Director
Today ALA released new data on book challenges in 2022. In summary, OIF documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago.
The CMO team has updated ALA web pages and created infographics illustrating the topline 2022 numbers to share on social media (sample below).
Sharing this new information widely with your networks over the next few days will provide a foundation for boosting our public-facing communications, especially leading up to National Library Week (April 23-29). The data we released today will be used by journalists, library workers and allies, students and many people who want to protect the freedom to read. The data will inform ALA's advocacy campaigns to protect the freedom to read at every level of government; state chapters and local libraries will use this new data to support their advocacy in opposition to dozens of adverse bills across the country, with support from OIF and PPA (which includes CRO); PPA will use this data in work to oppose legislation introduced on Capitol Hill (such as H.R. 5, the Parents' Bill of Rights, which Alan Inouye emailed about on Tuesday).
And because this unprecedented national attack on censorship is of national concern, ALA created the Unite Against Book Bans campaign, which now has numerous national partners who are planning to use the Unite Against Book Bans-branded versions of ALA's infographics (also created by the CMO team). Many of those partners have already posted on social media channels-just follow the hashtag #uniteagainstbookbans to see how many national organizations have got the backs of America's libraries.
Finally, we got a head start on press coverage with this Associated Press article, released this morning. OIF and PPA have mobilized a group of power advocates in the library community to recruit public, school, and academic librarians around the country to use this new data as a springboard to write letters to the editor supporting the freedom to read in news outlets nationwide, with a special focus in those areas most vulnerable to book banning efforts.
With challenges having nearly doubled in 2022 and ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has been busier than ever. Since the beginning of 2023, the OIF team has engaged in comprehensive support in nearly 116 cases; responded via email, phone, and video conference to hundreds of requests for assistance; presented more than two dozen virtual and in-person educational programs; and supported multiple community organizing efforts around the country.
All this mission-critical work is done by a deeply committed and growing OIF team:
- Deborah Caldwell-Stone directs OIF, responds to legal and policy issues, provides expert advice and guidance in challenge cases and during conferences and virtual programs, and establishes and enforces the priorities of the Office.
- Eric Stroshane provides direct challenge support to library workers and trustees seeking assistance, manages challenge reporting and the banned and challenged books database, oversees the Journal of Intellectual Freedom and Privacy, and edits OIF's Intellectual Freedom Blog.
- Betsy Gomez manages OIF's public outreach, oversees ALA's Banned Books Week campaign, coordinates community organizing and other programs for Unite Against Book Bans, and assists with social media and the Intellectual Freedom Blog.
- Joyce McIntosh directs continuing education and professional development opportunities offered through OIF and the Freedom to Read Foundation, manages FTRF's Krug Fund initiatives, and provides challenge support to librarians and trustees.
- Karen Gianni assists member leader groups, coordinates conference activities, and directs the administration of the programs and initiatives of the Freedom to Read Foundation.
OIF recently initiated a search for a new Deputy Director to expand its capacity to advise members and support at-risk library workers on legal and policy issues related to intellectual freedom and privacy.
OIF staff are devoted to helping ALA members, library workers confronting censorship, and the communities they serve. You can reach them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will be in contact within 24 to 48 hours to provide assistance.
ALA Members and stakeholders can also look forward to updated and new OIF resources in support of intellectual freedom, educational opportunities, exciting public-facing Unite Against Book Bans and Banned Books Week initiatives that help develop community support for libraries, and much more in the coming months.
You can find resources from across the Association, as well as from your state, on the Fight Censorship page. If you're faced with materials challenges or other intellectual freedom issues, report them via the Report Censorship form so we can continue to track and report on this nationwide issue. ALA and OIF staff always protect the confidentiality of those who submit reports. We also ask that you use some of the newly developed infographics to help spread the word about the severity of the book banning crisis.
Thank you for sharing the news and keeping up the drumbeat to protect the freedom to read. PPA, OIF and CMO staff will be on the lookout for the #UniteAgainstBookBans hashtag on your social posts.
Finally, I want to express my deepest appreciation to the members and dedicated staff working tirelessly on this issue.
Tracie D. Hall
Executive Director and 1998 Spectrum Scholar
225 N Michigan Ave, Suite 1300
Chicago, IL 60601
Marsha P. Burgess
American Library Association