The Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned Initiative Offers Complimentary eCards to American Teens

In response to the growing attack on children’s right to read, librarians are taking a stand, and The Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned Initiative is leading the charge by offering complimentary eCards to American teens. Since the program’s inception, over 5,100 free electronic library cards have been provided, ensuring access to a wealth of knowledge for the youth.

The spread of censorship via book challenges around the country often prompts librarians to step in as saviors of the people’s right to read. The Brooklyn Public Library has a program called Books Unbanned that aims to challenge censorship and suppression by making available books banned from public and school libraries available. Anyone in the United States between the ages of 13 and 21 can apply for a complimentary Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) eCard through Books Unbanned. Through BPL’s online catalog, teens will have access to a many online resources, including 350,000 digital books, 200,000 audiobooks, and many more databases. More than 5,100 e-library cards have been distributed around the country as of this writing.

Teens in New York City can also join BPL’s Intellectual Freedom Teen Council to learn more about how they can aid other youth in protecting their right to read by discussing book challenges and their favorite banned books.

Many rallied on Twitter in defense of the Brooklyn Public Library, with many praising librarians for their invaluable work.

“I spent over 30 years working in public and university libraries. The @BKLYNlibrary has come up with a fantastic strategy, and I am so pleased with them that I immediately made a gift. Please consider making a contribution as well. If you can only afford to donate a few dollars, every little bit helps! #BooksUnbanned, “The Twitter account @CaitORyanFans made a post.

“There is no better location than a library, and librarians are actually angels in human form. LGBTQIA Say Gay, DeSantis “tweeting as @LupieLady08.

According to the Brooklyn Public Library, “working for the rights of youth nationally to read what they like, discover themselves, and establish their own ideas” is at the heart of this program, which was inspired by the Freedom to Read Declaration from the American Library Association. The American Library Association (ALA) defines book challenges as “any action taken to restrict, ban, or otherwise restrict access to books, periodicals, or other written materials” (including censorship of content in schools), stigmatization of “controversial” viewpoints, dissemination of lists of “objectionable” books or authors, or the closing of libraries.

“About a thousand books were banned last year by American school districts, most of them written by or about people of color and/or with content and/or for social justice. For #WorldBookDay2022 #librarians, @BKLYNlibrary created #BooksUnbanned to ensure that young adults aged 13–21 in the United States have access to a variety of reading materials “tweeted by @CynthiaDNelson.

The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom reports that in 2021 alone, more than 1500 publications were attacked by both commercial organizations and government agencies. In 2021, books with LGBTQIA+ themes made up half of the top 10 most contested books.

BPL will label it as “always available” in e-reader and audiobook forms, recently debated books that have made headlines across states and counties. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, and On Earth We’re Temporarily Beautiful by Ocean Vuong are just a few examples of the fantastic art, literature, and research that fall under this category.

On the one hand, it’s great that we were able to step in and support people in their time of need with access to robust library collections,” Nick Higgins, chief librarian of the Brooklyn Public Library, told CNN. “On the other hand, it’s really telling that significant censorship efforts are going on across the country that a lot of us need to band together to push back on.”

While librarians are taking action to combat the effects of censorship, particularly of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ authors, a socioeconomic access gap still exists for teenagers. We can all do our part in the ongoing struggle against oppression and censorship by working to close gaps and ensure that every adolescent has unfettered access to the internet and the necessary technological tools.

“Awesome Brooklyn Library @BKLYnlibrary #BooksUnbanned The library is my happy place, both physically and now virtually. Due to socioeconomic differences, it is likely that not everyone will have access to digital resources like ebooks. 2 That’s why it’s preferable if there are no #bans #censorship #DigitalDivide “Posted a tweet via @cefy.

Around the country, there has been a growing movement to remove books from school and library collections. BPL’s #BooksUnbanned campaign is an effort to reduce the destructive effects of book bans. Young adults can request a free eCard by contacting [email protected] or @bklynfuture on Instagram.

The popularity of Books Unbanned means that it will continue to be available indefinitely.

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