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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

Banned Books week: activities and insights

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Library news

[Editors note: the content for this guest blog was provided by Tony Brown, Stock and Reader Development Manager at Islington libraries]

Islington libraries have have been working with The British Library and Free Word on this year’s Banned Books Week. They are drawing attention to censorship and free speech, working alongside the American Library Association.

ALA Banned Books Week badge
ALA Banned Books Week badge

Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries in the US. Since then, according to the American Library Association, more than 11,300 books have been challenged.

The Guardian newspaper has covered the part Islington Libraries are playing in this year’s Banned Books week:
“Bookshops around the US are planning events and author readings to mark Banned Books Week, which has been running since 1982. This year, for the first time in the UK, the British Library, the Free Word Centre and Islington council in London are also coming together to promote the week. Reading groups and book clubs will be promoting a list of 40 books that have been subjected to calls for censorship, from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books to Toni Morrison’s Beloved, while the British Library is holding an evening of discussion about censorship, featuring the controversial young adult novelist Melvin Burgess.

“Islington – one-time home of George Orwell, with its rich history of radical thought, creative expression, and innovation – is the perfect place to celebrate Banned Books Week,” said Islington council’s executive member for economic development, Asima Shaikh. “I was astonished to see wonderful books like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and The Kite Runner on the list, and I’m proud to be a part of this celebration. Our libraries should be places that encourage the collision of ideas and the challenge of opinions and which open up, not close off, doors to new worlds of knowledge, experience, and adventure.”


There will be Banned Books promotions at Central and Finsbury libraries during the month.

The Reading Agency will be using the booklist to encourage reading/book groups to get involved across the country through their Reading Groups for everyone website.

The 2016 celebration is being held from Sunday 25 September until Saturday 1 October. On 22 September the British Library launched Banned Books Week with the event ‘Censorship and the author’.

There is also an event at the Free Word centre on 27 September ‘Who Is Afraid of Comics?’

Poster prepared by Free Word
Poster prepared by Free Word

For a list of Frequently Challenged Books you can visit:

Take a look at the Guardian’s gallery of the 10 most challenged titles.

International recognition

The team in Islington have also been in contact with the American Library Association and they have included us in their press release. The British Library and the ALA will be blogging about Banned Books and censorship throughout the week creating a unique International conversation.

To read more about Banned Books Week please visit:


Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DCMS or the Libraries Taskforce

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