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Syracuse University Libraries

Banned Books Week: Banned vs. Challenged

Challenged vs. Banned

What does this really mean?

Challenged books: Materials that someone has attempted to remove or restrict from a curriculum or library collection.

Banned books: Materials that have been removed from a curriculum or library collection.

What is a challenge? Attempted to remove or restrict materials or services based on content. What is a ban? Removal of materials or cancellation of services based on content.

More Information

For more information, please see the American Library Association's Banned and Challenged Books website.  More figures and charts are also available at their challenges statistics website.

Who Challenges Books?

Like the many reasons behind book challenges, the persons issuing them are also varied in nature.  According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, these are the most common initiators:

Who initiates challenges? 13% Board/administration, 12% Political/religious groups, 8% Librarians/teachers, 3% Elected officlals, 1% Students. Statistics based on 361 responses

Why Are Books Challenged?

Books have been, and continue to be challenged and banned for a variety of reasons.  According to the Office for Intellectual Freedom, these are the most commonly cited reasons, with the most popular reasons indicated in larger font:

Reasons for challenges: racist content, spreads misinformation, nudity, racial slurs, drugs, drinking, climate change, illegal aliens, anti-police, inaccurage, graphic illustrations, political viewpoint, transgender character, suicide, religious viewpoint, leftist propaganda, witchcraft, sexually explicit, influencing vulnerable young people, unscientific ideology, stereotypical representation, LGBTQIA+, gender dysphoria, bortion, pro-immigrant, anti-Semitic, rape, violence, sex education, pornographic, sex education, radical Islam, profanity, fake news, biased, grammatically incorrect

Where Are Books Challenged?

It might be closer than you think! This map represent the reported book bans and challenges that have occurred across the United States from 2007 to today: Book Bans and Challenges, 2007-2011 map.

Where do challenges take place? 66% Public libraries, 19% school libraries, 12% Schools, 2% Academia, 1% Special/prison libraries. Statistics based on 377 responses.