Reporting a Challenge

Since 1990, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom has maintained a confidential database on challenged materials. ALA collects information from two sources: media reports and reports submitted by individuals. All challenges are compiled into a database. Reports of challenges culled from media across the country are compiled in the bimonthly Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom; those reports are then compiled in the Banned Books Week Resource Guide. Challenges reported to the ALA by individuals are kept confidential and used for advocacy purposes only. In these cases, ALA will release only the title of the book being challenged and the reason. A list of most frequently challenge books is compiled from these challenges for each annual Banned Books Week.

To report a challenge, please submit an Online Challenge Database Form*. Alternately, you can print the Challenge Database Form (PDF), complete it, and fax it to  the Office for Intellectual Freedom, at 312-280-4227.

*Challenge database architect: Eric Johnson.

Need Assistance?

For assistance with actual and possible challenges to library materials, services, and programs,  contact Kristin Pekoll, OIF Assistant Director, Telephone: 800-545-2433, ext. 4221, Fax: 312-280-4227, kpekoll@ala.org, or at the Office for Intellectual Freedom, 800-545-2433, ext. 4223.

See also Coalitions Against Censorship

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The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged books list is compiled with expert analysis by the Office for Intellectual Freedom staff. “Challenges” are documented requests to remove materials from schools or libraries.  Removal would restrict access to this information by other library users. This list is not scientifically compiled.  Rather, it is a snapshot of the reports we receive every day. In some cases we get numerous details about the challenger, the nature of the complaint, the backstory, and the current status of the book.  And in some cases we get very little. Sometimes we receive information during the challenge event, sometimes many years later. These factors affect the total number of challenged books for any given year and how we inform the public.

Our goal is not to focus on the numbers, but to educate the community that censorship is still a very serious problem. Even with all of our efforts to follow up and provide support, surveys indicate that up to 85% of book challenges receive no media attention and remain unreported.