This Virtual Library Restores Banned Books To Read For Free

This Virtual Library Restores Banned Books To Read For Free

Nationwide book bans have surged, with reported challenges to books doubling in 2022 compared to the previous year. This escalation raises concerns about the freedom to read and learn. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of The 1619 Project, believes that despite the challenges, finding joy in the midst of these book bans is easy, as communities and especially young people are fighting back, demanding the freedom to read, learn, and engage with uncomfortable ideas.

Among the numerous communities and libraries actively advocating for this fundamental right, The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) stands out. In July 2023, they launched The Banned Book Club, firmly rooted in the belief that readers everywhere should have access to the books they wish to read. Powered by the Palace Project, a non-profit organization committed to expanding access to library resources and books, the book club is on a mission to overturn bans and restore access to any literature questioned in America.

DPLA’s virtual libraries employ GPS-based geo-targeting to identify and document books banned by location. When certain books are banned in particular areas, the Banned Book Club ensures free access to these titles. The club compiles its list of banned books using the database created by Dr. Tasslyn Magnusson for EveryLibrary. Furthermore, users have the option to report book bans to the organization, contributing to the collective effort to safeguard intellectual freedom.

As part of their dedication to National Banned Book Week, which runs from October 1 to 7, the Banned Book Club has made a significant impact in the state of Texas, which is widely regarded as the epicenter of book banning in the country. In the previous year, Texas led in attempts to restrict or outright ban books, many of which revolved around themes of sexuality, gender identity, and race. To make a powerful statement, the organization deployed mobile billboards in front of prominent landmarks like the University of Texas, the state capitol in Austin, and the Llano County Public Library. The latter has become a focal point in an ongoing battle for free speech.

The Banned Book Club‘s website boldly declares, “Every time a book is banned from a library, we’re going to help put it right back.” Their mission is clear: to provide anyone in a library where a book has been banned with free access to the digital version, thereby championing the enduring spirit of open inquiry and the right to explore diverse perspectives.