NORFOLK, Neb. -– In 2021, the American Library Association (ALA) reported that there were 1,600 books that had been affected by attempts at censorship. A majority of 729 challenges last year were over books, graphic novels, and textbooks while others were concerned with programs, displays, exhibits, and films.

The organization Banned Books Week Coalition is an organization that is joined by a commitment to increase awareness of the annual celebration. This time is celebrated the third week of September on the freedom to read “Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read and spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools,” as stated on the ALA’s Banned & Challenged Books website.
 
The Northeast Community College Library joined with hundreds of other groups across the country to begin the week with a special event on the Norfolk campus with a Readers’ Karaoke. Director of library services, Jennifer Ippensen, said the event gave everyone the opportunity to read and have others listen to short excerpts from frequently challenged books. 
 
“Recently, we have seen an unprecedented assault on the freedom to read and it has been escalating. In 2021, the American Library Association recorded the most attempts to ban books since they began tracking challenges more than 20 years ago,” Ippensen said. “These attempts are in the news every day. Still, as the ALA Freedom to Read Statement indicates, ‘free communication is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture.’” 
 
The theme they have for Banned Books Week in 2022 is "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." The ALA said that books reach across boundaries and build connections between readers. “Censorship, on the other hand, creates barriers. Banned Books Week is both a reminder of the unifying power of stories and the divisiveness of censorship and a call to action for readers across the country to push back against censorship attempts in their communities,” according to the ALA Banned & Challenged Books website.
 
“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA’s office for intellectual freedom.” Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”
 
“Banned Books Week is more important than ever. We must continue to raise awareness about threats to intellectual freedom, stand up against censorship, and protect our freedom to read,” Ippensen said.