The American Library Association opposes widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries

Due to a dramatic uptick in book challenges and outright removal of books from libraries, ALA’s Executive Board and the Boards of Directors for all of ALA’s eight divisions have released the following joint statement regarding attempts to remove materials that focus on LGBTQIA+ issues and books by Black authors or that document the Black experience or the experiences of other BIPOC individuals:

In recent months, a few organizations have advanced the proposition that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves. To this end, they have launched campaigns demanding the censorship of books and resources that mirror the lives of those who are gay, queer, or transgender or that tell the stories of persons who are Black, Indigenous, or persons of color. Falsely claiming that these works are subversive, immoral, or worse, these groups induce elected and non-elected officials to abandon constitutional principles, ignore the rule of law, and disregard individual rights to promote government censorship of library collections. Some of these groups even resort to intimidation and threats to achieve their ends, targeting the safety and livelihoods of library workers, educators, and board members who have dedicated themselves to public service, informing our communities, and educating our youth. 

ALA strongly condemns these acts of censorship and intimidation.  

We are committed to defending the constitutional rights of all individuals of all ages to use the resources and services of libraries. We champion and defend the freedom to speak, the freedom to publish, and the freedom to read, as promised by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. 

We stand opposed to censorship and any effort to coerce belief, suppress opinion, or punish those whose expression does not conform to what is deemed orthodox in history, politics, or belief. The unfettered exchange of ideas is essential to the preservation of a free and democratic society.

Libraries manifest the promises of the First Amendment by making available the widest possible range of viewpoints, opinions, and ideas, so that every person has the opportunity to freely read and consider information and ideas, regardless of their content or the viewpoint of the author. This requires the professional expertise of librarians who work in partnership with their communities to curate collections that serve the information needs of all their users.

In 1953, when confronted with comparable threats to our democratic values, the American Library Association issued the Freedom to Read Statement, a declaration in support of the freedom to think or believe as one chooses, the freedom to express one’s thoughts and beliefs without fear or retaliation, and the right to access information without restriction. ALA’s Executive Board, staff, and member leaders reaffirm not only the principles of the Freedom to Read Statement, but also the daily practices that ensure it continues to inform the profession and that library workers and library trustees have the training, information, tools, and support they need to celebrate and defend their communities’ right to read and to learn. 

With the freedom to read under threat, the ALA, including its Executive Board, Divisions, Roundtables, and other units, stand firmly with our members, the entire library community, allied organizations, and all those across this country who choose to exercise their right to read and access information freely, and we call on others to do the same.

American Library Association Executive Board

American Association of School Librarians Board of Directors

Association for Library Service to Children Board of Directors

Association of College and Research Libraries Board of Directors

Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures Board of Directors

Public Library Association Board of Directors

Reference and User Services Association Board of Directors

Young Adult Library Services Association Board of Directors

United for Libraries Board of Directors


The American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) is actively involved in providing confidential legal guidance and strategic support to libraries and library professionals in communities across the country impacted by the recent surge in book challenges. Since June 1, 2021, OIF has tracked 155 unique censorship incidents and provided direct support and consultation in 120 of those cases. “We’re seeing an unprecedented volume of challenges in the fall of 2021,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, OIF Director. “In my twenty years with ALA, I can’t recall a time when we had multiple challenges coming in on a daily basis.”

Established Dec. 1, 1967, the Office for Intellectual Freedom is charged with implementing ALA policies concerning the concept of intellectual freedom as embodied in the Library Bill of Rights, the association’s basic policy on free access to libraries and library materials.  The goal of the office is to educate librarians and the general public about the nature and importance of intellectual freedom in libraries.

OIF and ALA divisions and offices provide tools and resources for libraries, including challenge support; consulting and training; and awareness campaigns like Banned Books Week and the annual Top 10 Most Challenged Books list.  Other support for library workers facing book challenges includes the LeRoy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund, devoted to the support, maintenance, and welfare of librarians whose employment is threatened because of discrimination or because of their defense of intellectual freedom. A clearinghouse of resources is available on ALA’s Fight Censorship page.

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2 replies

  1. Thank you!!!

  2. 1a. Among my most prized possessions were and are my library cards. As a child I understood that reading opened up a wide world to me. I loved my local library and spent countless hours reading – and thinking from my reading.
    b. The freedom to read is an American value, not directly spelled out in the US Constitution, but derived from our First Amendment Freedom of the Press. It is a priceless birthright that no one else should dare try to take away or limit!
    c. Free libraries with wide public access is an American gift credited to Benjamin Franklin.

    2. History tells us that censorship of books harms societies and stops the free flow of ideas.

    a. What societies most censored books and ideas? Totalitarian, authoritarian, and communist societies censored heavily.
    b. History is replete with examples of self-styled censors who purport to censor – usually to “protect people.”
    c. Frequently, the censoring people have persecuted others for their ideas – which often turn out to be right ideas! Galileo is a prime example.
    d. Besides, censorship doesn’t work. We don’t have to return to Puritan times for examples;
    i. beloved Mark Twain was censored – for the supposed best of reasons!
    ii. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, The Diary of Anne Frank, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Tales of the Arabian Knights, and Canterbury Tales were all censored.
    v. In our own times, some ill-advised people tried to appoint themselves censors and even the Harry Potter books which have been adored and encouraged reading by millions of kids were tried to be censured!

    3. No one has the right to censure what others read or write. As public officials, particularly in public education, you are charged to protect our students’ access to information.

    4. I applaud Dearborn Schools, the Dearborn City Public Library, and Wayne RESA for providing broad access to our library books.

    5. Coders for Dearborn should develop a system so that parents can limit their kids access to books or the library, if they want it. If Dearborn Library doesn’t have the capacity, then American Library Association perhaps does. I have sent them both a copy of these remarks.

    6. However, I urge you to implement a system where those parents who want to prevent their students from accessing reading can do so. Parents can censor their own students until they are 18 years old, but they should not be able to impose their morals on everyone else in our community. Do not punish or limit everyone because a few disagree.

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