CHICAGO – Sunday the American Library Association (ALA) released its State of America’s Libraries 2019 report, an annual summary of library trends released during National Library Week, April 7 – 13, that outlines statistics and issues affecting all types of libraries.
No longer just places for books, public libraries serve as a lifeline for some of the nation’s most vulnerable communities.
The report found that library workers are on the frontlines addressing community challenges. Many serve as first responders who take on roles outside of traditional library service that support patrons’ needs and community development. Functioning at various times as career counselor, social worker, teacher and technology instructor, library staff give special care to adopt programs and services that support our most vulnerable and curious.
Additional findings illustrate library workers’ efforts to safeguard library collections and the freedom to read. In 2018 hundreds of attempts to remove materials or eliminate programs took place in public, school and academic libraries. Many of these library materials and services included or addressed LGBTQIA+ content.
Traditionally the ALA releases a Top Ten List within the State of America’s Libraries Report. This year 11 books were selected, since two titles were tied for the final position on the list, and both books were burned by a religious activist to protest a Pride event.
In 2018, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracked 347 challenges to library, school and university materials and services. Overall, 483 books were challenged or banned in 2018, with the following comprising the top 11 most frequently challenged:
1. “George,” by Alex Gino
Reason: for including a transgender character
2. “A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo,” by Jill Twiss, illustrated by E. G. Keller
Reasons: for LGBTQIA+ content, political and religious viewpoints
3. “Captain Underpants” series, written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Reasons: for including a same-sex couple, perceived as encouraging disruptive behavior
4. “The Hate U Give,” by Angie Thomas
Reasons: for profanity, drug use, sexual references, deemed “anti-cop”
5. “Drama,” written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ characters and themes
6. “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher
Reason: for addressing teen suicide
7. “This One Summer,” by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Reasons: for profanity, sexual references, certain illustrations
8. “Skippyjon Jones” series, written and illustrated by Judy Schachner
Reason: for depicting cultural stereotypes
9. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
Reasons: for profanity, sexual references, religious viewpoint
10. “This Day in June,” by Gayle E. Pitman, illustrated by Kristyna Litten
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content
11. “Two Boys Kissing,” by David Levithan
Reason: for LGBTQIA+ content
Other library trends are available in the full text of the 2019 State of America’s Libraries report, available at http://bit.ly/soal-2019 .
First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is observed each April by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country.