Censorship by the Numbers

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ALA compiles data on book challenges from reports filed by library professionals in the field and from news stories published throughout the United States. Because many book challenges are not reported to the ALA or covered by the press, the 2022 data compiled by ALA represents a snapshot of book censorship throughout 2022. A challenge to a book may be resolved in favor of retaining the book in the collection, or it can result in a book being restricted or withdrawn from the library.

Censorship by the Numbers

ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom 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 unparalleled number of reported book challenges in 2022 nearly doubles the 729 book challenges reported in 2021. Censors targeted a record 2,571 unique titles in 2022, a 38% increase from the 1,858 unique titles targeted for censorship in 2021. Of those titles, the vast majority were written by or about members of the LGBTQIA+ community or by and about Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color.

Check out the challenges to the freedom to read in the U.S. from 2013-2022, as well as the top five most challenged books of each year.

Books and Beyond

Books are not the sole target of attacks orchestrated by conservative parent groups and right-wing media. Both school and public librarians are increasingly in the crosshairs of conservative groups during book challenges and subject to defamatory name-calling, online harassment, social media attacks, and doxxing, as well as direct threats to their safety, their employment, and their very liberty.

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Books, graphic novels, and textbooks

Displays and exhibits

Programs and meeting rooms


(Includes filtering, access, databases, magazines, online resources, artwork, social media, music, pamphlets, student publications, and reading lists)

Who Initiates Challenges?

Prior to 2020, the vast majority of challenges to library books and resources were brought by a single parent who sought to remove or restrict access to a book their child was reading. However, in 2022, 90% of reported book challenges were demands to censor multiple titles - and of those demands to censor library books, 40% sought to remove or restrict more than 100 books all at once.

These numbers and the list of the Top 13 Most Challenged Books of 2022 are evidence of a growing, well-organized, conservative political movement, the goals of which include removing books about race, history, gender identity, sexuality, and reproductive health from America's public and school libraries that do not meet their approval. Using social media and other channels, these groups distribute book lists to their local chapters and individual adherents, who then utilize the lists to initiate a mass challenge that can empty the shelves of a library.

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30% Parents

28% Patrons

17% Political/Religious Groups

15% Board/Administration

3% Librarians/Teachers

3% Elected Officials

4% Other (includes non-custodial relatives, nonresidents, community members without library cards, etc.)

Where Do Challenges Take Place?

In 2022, nearly 51% of the demands to censor books targeted books, programs, displays, and other materials in school libraries and schools; 48% of book challenges targeted materials in public libraries.

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Public Libraries

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School Libraries

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College Libraries / Other Public Institutions