Months ago, the Brooklyn Public Library started its Books UnBanned project in order to counter increased efforts to ban books across the country. Through the initiative, teens and young adults ages 13-21 can obtain a Brooklyn Public library card for free and gain access to the full collection of 350,000 eBooks and 200,000 audiobooks. A special selection of books that are often challenged by conservative groups— which tend to center LGBTQ+ people and Black people— has also been made available to cardholders with no wait times or holds needed.
Since the program’s start, 5,100 free library cards have been issued to readers in every state and Washington, D.C., and around 18,000 eBooks and audiobooks have been checked out.
The library’s chief librarian, Nick Higgins, has said that the library has received hundreds of messages of feedback from all over the country showing gratitude for the program, especially because of a lack of access to books that have been removed from local libraries or a lack of access to nearby libraries.
Teen members of the library’s Teen Intellectual Freedom Council have even started having regular virtual meetings with readers who got their library cards through the UnBanned Books program. During meetings, attendees focus on censorship and how to resist it locally.
Because of the success of the program, the library has chosen to run it indefinitely, allowing card holders a year of access after which they are able to renew.
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