#BannedBooksWeek By the Numbers: Making Virtual-First Count

News Literacy, Privacy, Social Media

By: Sarah Hartman-Caverly

2020 will be memorable for its challenges — global, national, local, and personal. As we have in the face of challenges past, the library profession demonstrated its resilience and creativity to continue serving our communities in the face of the pandemic, social justice demonstrations, lockdowns and economic uncertainty, digital inequity, census advocacy, political polarization, and preparations for the national election.

Among these, there is another challenge we’ve faced down in the past and will continue to face in the future: book challenges. Censorship doesn’t take a sick day — and book ban and challenge statistics reported by the Office of Intellectual Freedom prove it.

But for the first time, our annual commemoration of the fight against book censorship and other content challenges went virtual-first. As our Banned Books Week observances shifted online, extraordinary efforts were brought to bear on keeping the freedom to read close to our hearts while our hearts were socially distanced.

Inspired by the Harper’s Index, and drawing on statistics and information compiled by Ellie Diaz, OIF’s intrepid manager of Banned Books Week, this post measures Banned Books Week 2020 by the numbers — and shows how intellectual freedom advocates made virtual-first count.

Banned Books Week 2020: How We Fight

ntellectual Freedom hero with the Banned Books Week logo, digital swag from the Escape the Dead End of Censorship! virtual escape room.

Banned Books Week 2020: Why We Fight

1Reported by OIF. 2Robert P. Doyle, Banned Books Week: Defending Our Freedom to Read, 2017.

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