According to the American Library Association, there were 1,269 reported attempts to ban or restrict library materials in 2022. This is the highest number of reported book ban attempts since ALA began keeping track more than 20 years ago, and represents a 74% increase over 2021, and a 713% increase over 2020. And 90% of all challenged books were part of an attempt to ban multiple books.
As a book sanctuary, Westfield Memorial Library will continue to collect and protect endangered books; make those books broadly accessible; host book talks, discussions, and other events that facilitate discussions about diverse characters and stories; and educate residents on the history of book banning and censorship in the United States.
The role of the public library is to collect and make available a wide variety of information resources representing the full range of human thought and experience. Library workers have a professional and ethical responsibility to be fair and just in defending the library user’s right to read, view, or listen to content protected by the First Amendment, regardless of the creator’s viewpoint or personal history.
“I’m extremely proud of the Board of Trustees for taking this important step to protect the right to read for all Westfield residents,” said Allen McGinley, Library Director. “Each individual has the right to decide what they wish to read, but they do not have the right to make that decision for an entire community.”
Earlier this month, the City of Hoboken became the first city in New Jersey to take a similar action.
Editor’s Note: *An earlier version of this post stated that Westfield Memorial Library may have been the first New Jersey public library to be designated a “book sanctuary.” Hoboken Public Library’s board of trustees designated that library a “book sanctuary” in August.