The card will be good for one year
With an ever growing list of banned books that includes everything from baby books to the Bible, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is doing something about the censorship. Launched in April, Books UnBanned is a program that offers young adults ages 13 to 21 the ability to apply for a free library eCard from the BPL that gives access to a huge collection of eBooks.
“Access to information is the great promise upon which public libraries were founded,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “We cannot sit idly by while books rejected by a few are removed from the library shelves for all. Books UnBanned will act as an antidote to censorship, offering teens and young adults across the country unlimited access to our extensive collection of ebooks and audiobooks, including those which may be banned in their home libraries.”
The free eCard is good for one year and serves as an additional resource for teens’ local communities. It provides access to 350,00 e-books, 200,000 audiobooks and over 100 databases.
BPL is making a point to keep challenged books available to those who want to read them by making specific selections available with no holds or wait times for all BPL cardholders. Some of those books include The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, Tomboy by Liz Prince, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison.
To apply for the card, eligible teens can email BooksUnbanned@bklynlibrary.org, or via the Library’s s teen-run Instagram account, @bklynfuture. Normally, there is a $50 for out-of-state cards but the program is waiving the fee for the year.
Being an eCard member provides readers with more than just access to literature. Teens will be connected to BPL’s Intellectual Freedom Teen Council, peers in their Brooklyn community (if they are residents), will be provided with resources on how to fight censorship and find a place to share stories, essays and videos on the impacts of book bans and the importances of intellectual freedom.
Access to banned books is more important than ever, with the American Library Associations’ Office of Intellectual Freedom finding over 700 complaints over the last year. “Brooklyn Public Library stands firmly against censorship and for the principles of intellectual freedom—the right of every individual to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction,” said Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian. “Limiting access or providing one-sided information is a threat to democracy itself.”