Idea Lab

Engaging with the Public During Times of Increased Book Challenges


  • Stephanie Diaz
  • Eva Murray
  • Mary Lubbers



banned books, challenged books, public libraries, intellectual freedom, censorship


In 2021, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) tracked 729 challenges to school, library, and university collections. Considering that in 2020 the OIF recorded 156 challenges, last year’s increase was dramatic enough to catch the attention of news outlets and social media users across the United States. As a result, libraries of all kinds were positioned to make often difficult decisions about how to respond to the public’s heightened focus on banned books. In this issue of JLOE, the Idea Lab highlights two libraries, a true community library that was caught off guard by extraordinary media attention, and a public library that deftly responded to local book challenges.