Book Censorship in the United States: A Government Documents Story

Claudia Davidson


In recent years, book bans and censorship have been serious topics of conversation in the United States. The American Library Association has been compiling data regarding censorship in libraries for more than twenty years. An announcement on March 22nd, 2023, reported 1,269 book censorship demands in 2022, the highest number yet recorded.

According to the announcement, this data is compiled through reports given to ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom and challenges covered in the press. However, many censorship attempts are not reported, so this annual data is an incomplete overview of yearly trends. “Challenge” is defined as a complaint or attempt at removal; some challenges are resolved without removing the item from collections, while others do result in restriction or removal. Despite continual reports of challenges, ALA finds that most Americans are against book censorship and believe librarians make good decisions when building collections.

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