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Intellectual Freedom Resources for Students

Are you a student researching a report on banned books? You’ve come to the right place. You will find Frequently Asked Questions and links to resources for both Oregon and for the United States.


What is Banned Books Week?

Banned Books Week, usually the last week in September, is a national celebration of the freedom to read. Librarians, booksellers, publishers, writers, teachers, and others who advocate for the freedom to express ideas promote Banned Books Week.

  It is an attempt to raise awareness of book challenges and book banning, and to speak out against censorship.


Banned Books Week 

Intellectual Freedom Committee-home  

Celebrate the Freedom to Read in Oregon (Facebook page)


What's the difference between a banned book and a challenged book?

A challenge is an attempt to have a book removed from a library, classroom, or other setting because a person or group objects to something in the book.

 Not all challenges result in the book being removed. In fact, many challenges do not succeed, and the challenged book remains in the library or continues to be part of the school’s curriculum.

 If the book is removed, it is then considered a “banned book”.


About banned and challenged books (American Library Association)

What happens when someone challenges a book?

Most schools and libraries have a formal process for deciding whether a book will be removed or restricted (available to only some people). This formal process, often called “reconsideration”, usually requires that the person or group challenging the book:

  1. Read the entire book, rather than just pointing out a section they find offensive.

  2. Fill out a form or make a formal written complaint asking that the book be reconsidered for the library shelves or school curriculum, and explaining their objections.

  3. Address a panel or the school board regarding the challenge.

 Challenge Support (American Library Association)

What are the most common reasons for challenging/banning books?

Reasons for book challenges may include: sexually explicit content, cultural insensitivity, anti-family, content including drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, unsuited for age group, violence, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, homosexuality, contains controversial issues, and occult/Satanism. However, this is just a partial list. Explore more reasons using this chart from the American Library Associations.

What books in the
United States are most often challenged or banned?

The American Library Association compiles lists of challenged books and has many resources related to this issue:

Frequently Challenged Books (American Library Association)

What books
are most often challenged or banned in the state of Oregon?

Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse

What books have been challenged or banned in
Oregon recently?

Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse: Annual Reports  

Where can I find news articles about challenges to books and library materials in the state of Oregon?

Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon: A News Database is a very comprehensive collection of articles about challenges to materials dating from 1946-2016.  

Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon: A News Database

What if a book isn’t banned, but a school or library removes or covers over some of the objectionable content? Is that censorship?

What is the definition of censorship?  How does the definition apply to the removal (whether by excising or hiding) of what someone may consider "objectionable material"?

What Is Censorship? (ACLU)

The Right to Read: Censorship in the School Library

Articles of Interest:

Ban Censorship, Not Books or Websites (ACLU)