City, County Honor Banned Books Week

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The City of Santa Monica and Los Angeles County have joined forces with the Books Unbanned Initiative, a nation-wide non-profit movement, to honor banned book week. This year’s theme is “Let Freedom Read” and is meant to draw national attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.

A blog post by the city‘s Director of Library Services, Erica Cuyugan, explains the urgency of the issue:

…censorship has moved beyond books and into school curriculums, resources and even displays and exhibits, and it’s on the rise. According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), the American Library Association (ALA) documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022. This is the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago, and almost double the number of challenges in 2021. Of the 2,571 unique titles targeted for censorship, most were by or about LGBTQIA+ persons and Black, Indigenous and people of color.

Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that limits the ability of public school districts to ban books. For more information on Banned Books Week and book challenges, visit bannedbooksweek.org and uniteagainstbookbans.org.

Here are some of the ways banned books week is being honored locally this week:

The County Library has joined the national Books Unbanned initiative, launching a digital card for teens ages 13 – 18 throughout the state, which provides access to eBooks and audiobooks, including banned books. The card was developed in response to a County Board of Supervisors motion, authored by Supervisors Lindsey Horvath and Janice Hahn, which directed the Library to expand library cards to teens statewide in an effort to support young people without access to certain banned books, and to determine how to fund the purchase of additional eBook and audiobook copies of frequently banned titles.

At last week’s City Council meeting, the Council unanimously voted to declare this week “Banned Book Week” in Santa Monica to draw more attention to the issue locally.

The Santa Monica Library is hosting Banned Books Trivia at 6 p.m. at the Central Branch at 6 p.m. Compete individually or as a team to win prizes and learn more about book banning in history. Get more details, here.

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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