Libraries face spikes with challenged books

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 6:51 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - More and more books across the country are being taken off the shelves, and Eastern North Carolina is no exception.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), there was a 20% increase in challenged books this year compared to the same time last year, which marks a record number of books challenged since the association started collecting data.

Books with LGBTQIA+ and person of color content were the most challenged.

Greg Needham, the director at Sheppard Memorial Library, says public libraries should serve as a source of diverse information.

Needham said, “Public library is the most democratic organization. It’s important for the public to know that, and the library needs to be responsive and track the use. We’re tax-payer funded so we want to make sure we are providing for the informational and recreational needs. We gotta stay nimble and continue to adapt and watch what’s happening.”

Needham says the staff here focuses on early literacy so that kids can grow up being exposed to multiple viewpoints.

One mother who brought her toddlers to story time agrees.

“There are so many beautiful books that are able to break down those differences so kids don’t even question them as differences, it just is, Kate Martin, a mother to two toddlers said. “That’s how it should be. That’s how we, as parents, are combating hate and bigotry and that’s something I’m proud to do, so I hope that our library doesn’t have book bans.”

Needham said there are about half a million items checked out from the library every year.