Amid an unprecedented, ongoing surge of book bans and attacks on the freedom to read, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) this week announced the launch of the Banned Book Club, a new program that will enable readers in communities across the nation to check out e-book versions of banned books via the Palace e-reader app.
DPLA officials say the new program utilizes GPS-based “geo-targeting” to show readers the books that have been banned in their area, with e-book versions available to borrow digitally. All that is required from readers is the Palace App (the DPLA's free e-reading application) and a free virtual library card, which users can sign up for via the app.
“Today book bans are one of the greatest threats to our freedom, and we have created The Banned Book Club to leverage the dual powers of libraries and digital technology to ensure that every American can access the books they want to read,” said John S. Bracken, executive director of DPLA, in a statement. “At DPLA, our mission is to ensure access to knowledge for all and we believe in the power of technology to further that access.”
The program is the latest effort to use e-books to blunt a right wing national political movement that is seeking to restrict access to books—especially books with LGBTQ+ authors and themes and books involving race and social justice—from local libraries and schools. In April 2022, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) first introduced its award-winning Books Unbanned program, which offers free BPL virtual library cards to teens and young adults aged 13 to 21 anywhere in the country. Earlier this year, the Seattle Public Library became the second library to join the Books Unbanned program.