New report affirms invaluable role of our nation’s libraries

For Immediate Release
Mon, 04/09/2018

Contact:

Macey Morales

Deputy Director

Public Awareness Office

mmorales@ala.org

CHICAGO – Today the American Library Association (ALA) released its 2018 State of America’s Libraries report, an annual summary of library trends released during National Library Week, April 8 – 14, that outlines statistics and issues affecting all types of libraries. The report affirms the invaluable role libraries and library workers play within their communities by leading efforts to transform lives through education and lifelong learning.

During this time of rapid social change, libraries of all types are providing welcoming spaces to an increasingly diverse population; working with the community to offer social service support and health resources, career and small business development assistance; and combating fake news by providing tools to assess and evaluate news sources.

The function of libraries as community centers is readily recognized. A Brookings Institution article even referred to librarians as “ad hoc social workers and navigators” who “help local people figure out the complexities of life.” This role is especially evident, and never more essential, than in times of crisis, and 2017 had its share of adversity—from natural disasters to shootings on school campuses.

The report found that libraries continue to face challenges that carry with them the potential for censorship, to a variety of books, programs and materials. The ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracked 354 challenges to library, school and university materials and services in 2017. Some individual challenges resulted in requests to restrict or remove multiple titles or collections. Overall in 2017, 416 books were targeted – direct attacks on the freedom to read.

Through an analysis of overall books challenged (416) the OIF produced the “Top Ten Most Challenged Books” of 2017, which includes:  

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
    Reason: Suicide

2.  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
     Reasons: Profanity, Sexually Explicit

3.  Drama, written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
     Reason: LGBT Content

4.  The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
     Reasons: Sexual Violence, Religious Themes, “May Lead to Terrorism”

5.  George, by Alex Gino
     Reason: LGBT Content

 6.  Sex is a Funny Word, written by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth
      Reason: Sex Education

7.  To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
     Reasons: Violence, Racial Slurs.

8.  The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
     Reasons: Drug Use, Profanity, “Pervasively Vulgar”

 9.  And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, illustrated by   
     Henry Cole

     Reason: LGBT Content

10.  I Am Jazz, written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh
      McNicholas

      Reason: Gender Identity

Additional information regarding why books were challenged, access to a Top Ten List video announcement, and infographics regarding the 2017 Top Ten List of Most Challenged Books are available at http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/NLW-Top10 .  A video featuring 2017 Top Ten List titles is available at https://youtu.be/yyd2kII-8D4 .

Other library trends are available in the full text of the 2018 State of America’s Libraries report, available at http://bit.ly/soal-2018 .

This is the 60th anniversary of National Library Week. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is observed each April by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country. National Library Week celebrations include the release of the ALA’s 2018 “State of America’s Libraries Report,” April 9; National Library Workers Day, April 10; National Bookmobile Day, April 11; and Take Action for Libraries Day, April 12. 

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice of libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit ala.org.