The Brooklyn Public Library said they have made its entire collection of e-books and audiobooks accessible to teenagers across the United States for free. The library said this is being done to protest against the recent trend of banning books in the country. This forms part of an initiative named Books UnBanned which makes those aged between 13 and 21 to be eligible for an eCard which can be used to borrow content from the library.
The offer will apply to all teens in the US irrespective of the state they belong to and is going to be valid for one year. The membership card otherwise comes for $50 for those living out of the state. Further, as Fox5 mentioned, the teens will also be able to connect to their peers in Brooklyn which includes the Intellectual Freedom Teen Council of the library as well. This, the library believes will make the teens better aware of the importance of the freedom to read as well as the need to fight censorship.
As things stand at the moment, there has been a sharp rise in instances of banning books, something not seen in decades. While it has been a state-level initiative in many cases, there have also been instances of local communities resorting to banning books they deem fit. Take for instance a Tennessee school board disapproving of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus by Art Spiegelman’s.
Similarly, Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel Gender Queer: A Memoir too came to be censored by local communities in Orange County, Florida. The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones too has its own share of controversy given that it deals with how slavery once thrived in the United States. No wonder, there is a bill proposed seeking a ban on it.
The Brooklyn Public Library though said they would allow unrestricted access to the 1619 project and will have no hold or wait times for the cardholders. The same applies to other titles that have raked up a lot of controversies and have often faced calls for bans. These include The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, Tomboy by Liz Prince, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison.
Many groups have also come forward to fight the censorship of books. Take for instance ‘No Left Turn in Education’ that has voiced its concern against books depicting pornography and pedophilia. ‘No Left Turn in Education’ happens to be a national-level group that has always been critical of the inclusion of any material in the school books that can politicize or indoctrinate the young minds. The group has also asked Attorney General Merrick Garland how the book Gender Queer continues to be available.
“Brooklyn Public Library stands firmly against censorship and for the principles of intellectual freedom—the right of every individual to seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction,” Nick Higgins, Brooklyn Public Library’s chief librarian, said in a statement. “Limiting access or providing one-sided information is a threat to democracy itself.”
The library said the new eCard being issued will provide members access to 350,000 e-books, 200,000 audiobooks, and more than 100 databases. The books can be accessed via the library’s online app or the Libby app. To apply for the card, teens can send their request to BooksUnbanned@bklynlibrary.org or via the library’s Instagram account @bklynfuture that too is run by the teens.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.