NYPL and ALA Toolkits for Libraries and Teens Now Available

The New York Public Library (NYPL) and the American Library Association (ALA) on Wednesday announced they are increasing access to NYPL’s “Books for All” anti-censorship campaign with new downloadable tool kits that enable people all over the country to participate, including library systems. 

The New York Public Library, in partnership with ALA, launched “Books for All” during Banned Books Week to underscore the importance of reading and access to knowledge for all and the vital role that public libraries play in our democracy. In recognition of the fact that many of the books being banned and challenged are targeting books for young people, the campaign focuses heavily on teen readers. The campaign will continue through the school year, ending in June, which makes it the largest anti-censorship initiative in NYPL history. 

“Books for All” includes a new teen-banned book club with unlimited access to young adult titles that have been the subject of bans and/or challenges to anyone via the Library’s SimplyE app, as well as a national teen writing contest that will ask teens around the country: “What does the freedom to read mean to them?” 

These new toolkits will help bring “Books for All” to more libraries and teens across the country. They include a book discussion guide on the Library’s first teen book club pick – the highly acclaimed “Each of Us a Desert” by Mark Oshiro – as well as a flyer promoting Oshiro’s book club talk with teens on Nov. 28 at 4:30 PM ET. That virtual event, hosted by NYPL, is open to teens and school groups nationwide. Unlimited access to “Each of Us a Desert” was made possible thanks to a partnership with Macmillan Publishers. The partnership guarantees there will be no wait times for the book when downloaded via NYPL’s e-reading app, SimplyE. It is available to anyone age 13 and over, regardless of whether or not they have an NYPL library card. Every two months, a new book club pick will be announced. 

Additionally, the tool kits also feature a “How to Get Involved” guide about ways to fight book bans, a flyer that details how teens can join NYPL’s teen writing contest – which is open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 19 and includes a $500 grand prize, as well as button maker templates and photo props with slogans like “I read banned books,” “Read freely,” and “Protect the Freedom.” 

“In America today our basic freedoms are under attack: the freedom to choose what to read, to learn about new ideas and experiences, to see and understand more about ourselves and others. A vocal minority seeks to censor not just books, but the people in those books because they find them uncomfortable. We know that stories are powerful and can shape our lives, open our eyes, and change the world but unlike advocates of book banning, we believe that’s a good thing and that free people have the right to choose for themselves. Since their founding, public libraries have combated the forces of ignorance and hate by making information and knowledge freely available to all. With this campaign, we stand in solidarity with the library workers and communities across the country who are being censored and threatened. We all have a role to play in protecting everyone’s right to access the full range of ideas, voices, and experiences our society has to offer. That is where our strength as a nation comes from. We welcome everyone to read along and join us,” said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx.

“Every library exists to serve every member of the community. I am pleased that NYPL, in partnership with ALA, is taking this initiative to protect every American’s right to read,” said ALA President Emily Drabinski.

“I’ve spent most of my career as an author writing in libraries, and I spent an enormous amount of time in them as a kid. Books were always a safe place for me to land, especially as I desperately sought stories and worlds that helped me feel seen and understood. I continue to write with my younger self in mind, knowing that there are readers all over who need the power of literature in their lives just like I did all those years ago. It’s no surprise that this same artistic expression is under fire across this country, but I am committed to creative honesty and will remain in service to young readers as long as I can be,” said Mark Oshiro, the first author to be featured in the NYPL Teen Banned Book Club.

“I don’t see people who look like me and talk like me in the books at my school library in Fort Worth, Texas and this problem is only getting worse as we operate under the shadow of HB900. Hundreds of books have already been pulled in anticipation of the law going into effect. For someone who loves books as much as I do, it is simply heartbreaking. Everyone deserves to have access to books where they see themselves and have their identity affirmed. To deny us that is to deny us our humanity. I am proud to stand with The New York Public Library and the American Library Association to unite against book bans and the coordinated efforts to erase identities like mine. Together, we can fight censorship and the silencing of voices,” Banned Books Week 2023 Youth Honorary Chair Da’Taeveyon Daniels.

“We are honored to be part of the Books for All campaign and to offer Mark Oshiro’s Each of Us a Desert to readers across the country, especially to those who may not have had the opportunity to read it otherwise. We proudly stand with our authors, the New York Public Library, and fellow readers as we work together to push back against book bans,” said Jon Yaged, CEO, Macmillan Publishers. 

“Libraries and the literature they hold have always been a portal into a different world, as well as a way to imagine a tangible new one. Banning books is the threat of banning histories, people, and dreams. We must all stand firm in our opposition to the silencing of our authentic stories. You cannot ban marginalized people. We will always be here, and we demand that our literature and art be here too,” said Stephanie Pacheco, New York City Youth Poet Laureate and Inaugural New York State Youth Poet Laureate

ALA recently released new preliminary data documenting 695 book challenges during the first eight months of 2023, an increase of 20 percent from the same period last year, which was the highest on record. The preliminary data also suggests that censorship efforts are increasingly being directed at public libraries, which accounted for 49% of documented challenges, up from 16 percent during the same reporting period in 2022.

About Macmillan Publishers 
Macmillan Publishers is the U.S. trade division of the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, a large family-owned media company headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. Its publishing companies include prominent imprints around the world that publish a broad range of award-winning books for children and adults in all categories and formats. U.S. publishers include Celadon Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Flatiron Books, Henry Holt & Company, Macmillan Audio, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, The St. Martin’s Publishing Group, and Tor Publishing Group. In the UK, Australia, India, and South Africa, Macmillan publishes under the Pan Macmillan name. The German company, Holtzbrinck Deutsche Buchverlage, includes among its imprints S. Fischer, Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Rowohlt, and Droemer Knaur.

About the American Library Association 
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 for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit the ALA website at ALA.org.

About Unite Against Book Bans  
Unite Against Book Bans is a national initiative launched by ALA in April 2022 to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship. With more than 200 partner organizations and tens of thousands of individual supporters, the campaign connects, equips and mobilizes the public to advocate in their communities for the right to read and to defeat attempts at at every level of government to censor reading material. Learn more and join the campaign at uniteagainstbookbans.org/take-action/.

About The New York Public Library
For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With over 90 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming, and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support. 

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