For immediate release | October 6, 2011

"It’s everybody’s job" to report challenges

CHICAGO – On the heels of Banned Books Week this year, the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom is kicking off a new awareness campaign to increase the reporting of challenges to library materials.

“We estimate that only 20 to 25 percent of challenges – formal requests that library materials be removed or restricted – are ever reported,” said Barbara Jones, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). “As libraries across the country and the world conclude their Banned Books Week celebrations, we’re reaching out to encourage anyone to contact our office when censorship efforts occur.”

Defend the Freedom to Read: It’s Everybody’s Job is an awareness campaign conceived by librarian and library activist Andy Woodworth. OIF has collaborated with Woodworth and commissioned the creation of original art to help spread the word. Inspired by the artwork and public safety notices of World War II, these images are freely available as digital downloads and come in all different sizes for a variety of uses. OIF encourages librarians to use the images as computer wallpaper, hang them in a staff lounge, print them out as bookmarks, post them as a blog banner or even use one as your icon on your favorite social media website.

“This is a request to the library community for something that all librarians can understand: we need more information!” Jones said. “With increased reporting, OIF will be able to better track challenges and removal patterns so as to advise members of the profession. In the same way that libraries collect circulation numbers to track usage, our office seeks to improve how we track instances of books that are currently being challenged and those that are being removed. Reporting a challenge or removal can be done by name or anonymously. The important thing is that people take the time to submit a report. This campaign will help raise awareness that OIF records challenges, provides support to those facing them and encourages anyone to contact our office about these issues.”

Challenges reported to ALA by individuals are kept confidential and used only for statistical purposes. Challenges or removals can be reported either online or by paper form. For more information, please visit the “Reporting a Challenge” page online at For assistance with current or anticipated challenges to library materials, services, and programs, contact Angela Maycock at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4221, or


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.


Andy Woodworth is a librarian in New Jersey. He is the group creator of the People for a Library Themed Ben & Jerry's Flavor, co-author of the eBook User’s Bill of Rights, creator of last year’s ALA “Endangered Libraries” shirt, and a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. His professional blog “Agnostic, Maybe” can be found at


Angela Maycock