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New York Public Library makes certain banned books free to all

A public library in New York has launched an initiative to make books which have been banned recently available for free.

The initiative is called Books for All and allows any reader aged 13 and older to access commonly banned books through the library’s app until the end of May. There are no wait times to access the books and no fines, the library said. Typically, access to books at the New York Public Library are only available to New Yorkers with a library card.

“The recent instances of both attempted and successful book banning primarily on titles that explore race, LGBTQ+ issues, religion, and history  are extremely disturbing and amount to an all-out attack on the very foundation of our democracy,” said Tony Marx, president of the New York Public Library.

“Knowledge is power; ignorance is dangerous, breeding hate and division … Since their inception, public libraries have worked to combat these forces simply by making all perspectives and ideas accessible to all,” Marx said.

The New York Public Library’s efforts launched on April 13. The books currently available are Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Brooklyn Public Library also announced a similar initiative called Books Unbanned for those aged 13-21.

Nikole Hannah-Jones, creator of The 1619 Project and a Brooklyn Public Library board member, tweeted: “This is such a fantastic move and a template for how other institutions in states that AREN’T banning books can help those who live in states that are … Healthy societies do not ban books.”

The American Library Association reported earlier this month that there were 729 challenges to library, school and university material in 2021, the highest number since the organization started tracking it in 2000.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: VOX

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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