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Banned Books Week

Your guide to challenged and banned books. Read one today!

What is a Challenged Book?

A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting materials be removed because of content or appropriateness. Between 2000 and 2009, US libraries reported 5,099 challenges:

  • 1,577 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
  • 1,291 challenges due to “offensive language”;
  • 989 challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”;
  • 619 challenges due to “violence”
  • 361 challenges due to “homosexuality”

A further 274 titles were challenged due to "occult" or "satanic" themes, 291 were challenged due to their "religious viewpoint," and 119 because they were "anti-family."

This definition and statistics were retrieved from the American Library Association’s website. Retrieved September 9, 2014.


From ALA.

In 1986, in response to inquiries from librarians facing book or material challenges for the first time, the Intellectual Freedom Committee developed the following list of definitions to clarify terminology associated with challenges:

Expression of Concern. An inquiry that has judgmental overtones.

Oral Complaint. An oral challenge to the presence and/or appropriateness of the material in question.

Written Complaint. A formal, written complaint filed with the institution (library, school, etc.), challenging the presence and/or appropriateness of specific material.

Public Attack. A publicly disseminated statement challenging the value of the material, presented to the media and/or others outside the institutional organization in order to gain public support for further action.

Censorship. A change in the access status of material, based on the content of the work and made by a governing authority or its representatives. Such changes include exclusion, restriction, removal, or age/grade level changes.

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