The number of books threatened with removal from library shelves dropped last year to its lowest total on record, with 405 challenges reported to the American Library Assn.
The ALA has been tracking efforts to pull texts since the early 1980s, when it helped found Banned Books Week as a celebration of free expression. The 25th annual “Banned Books” program takes place Sept. 23-30 as libraries and bookstores highlight works that have been removed or faced removal.
Challenges have gone up and down over the last few years, but overall have dropped by more than half since Banned Books Week was started. Judith Krug, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, cited a couple of possible factors for the decline: Librarians are better prepared to organize community support on behalf of a book, and would-be censors are focusing more on online content. “There’s only so much energy to spend on situations or concerns outside the home,” Krug said in an interview. “A large majority of our challenges deal with what children are reading in schools and many adults are now so concerned about what’s on the Internet that they have refocused.”