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Seattle joins effort to give young readers access to banned books

Some books that have been banned at schools in the U.S.
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The Seattle Public Library has joined a national effort to make books more accessible to youth readers, even in parts of the country where books have been banned.

The initiative, called Books Unbanned, was started by the Brooklyn Public Library last year in response to an increase in books being removed from schools and libraries around the U.S. A majority of those books are written by, or about LGBTQIA+ and communities of color.

The Seattle Public Library will provide free access to its entire collection of e-books and audio-books, to youths ages 13-26 regardless of where they are in the U.S. The library's Andrew Harbison said their work is all about intellectual freedom and access.

“The role that public libraries need to play in a healthy society is ensuring that there's free and open access to information and ideas and diversity of voices and perspectives and opinions,” he said.

Recently the American Libraries Association released censorship data that shows there's only been 17 attempts at banning books in Washington state over the past year.

Nationwide, the American Library Association documented more than 1,250 demands to censor library books and resources in 2022, almost twice the 2021 total and the highest amount since the ALA began tracking the data 20 years ago.

While the numbers aren't as shocking in Washington, the state is not immune from censorship demands. During 2022, Washington libraries reported 17 demands to ban or remove materials. You can dig deeper into the ALA report and see which books were the most targeted in different states here.

The Seattle Public Library will also have lists of books that youth readers can check out that may have been banned from their local libraries.

They can sign up at

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