The American Library Association announced today that the number of unique titles targeted for censorship surged 65% in 2023 compared to 2022, once again hitting record levels.

In a release, ALA officials said that 4,240 unique book titles were reported challenged in schools and libraries in 2023, a sharp increase over 2022, when 2,571 unique titles were targeted for removal. ALA also reported 1,247 tracked challenges in 2023, which is down slightly from 1,269 challenges in 2022. But ALA officials stressed that the number does not reflect decreasing challenges, noting that prior to 2021, the vast majority of tracked challenges to library resources came from individuals seeking to remove or restrict access to a single book. Now, as result of an organized political movement and sharing book lists compiled by various groups, the overwhelming majority of tracked challenges come from groups and involve multiple titles.

“The reports from librarians and educators in the field make it clear that the organized campaigns to ban books aren’t over,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “Each demand to ban a book is a demand to deny each person’s constitutionally protected right to choose and read books that raise important issues and lift up the voices of those who are often silenced."

In addition to the surge in unique titles challenged, ALA also reported:

  • The number of titles targeted for censorship at public libraries increased by 92%, while school libraries saw an 11% increase.
  • Titles representing the voices and experiences of LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC individuals made up 47% of those targeted in censorship attempts.
  • There were attempts to censor more than 100 titles in 17 states in 2023: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The release comes ahead of National Library Week, set to run from April 7-13, when ALA will unveil its annual list of the top 10 most challenged books in the U.S. (on Monday, April 8, Right to Read Day) along with its full State of America's Libraries Report. For more information about the ALA's efforts to combat book banning, visit Unite Against Book Bans.