While book bans are becoming more common and as the political temperature rises, some libraries in Florida are fighting back.
When the Sterling Road Library held its 21st Birthday Celebration this week, its Friends decided this was the perfect time to continue their fight against book banning. Alongside the raffle tickets, the free Scholastic book, and snacks, a table manned with volunteers had a different stack of books on them: all books that have been “banned” or “challenged.” These books were given away to patrons who want them as part of the fight back against book banning.
The Stirling Road Library, together with all other Broward County Library branches, has created a “Book Sanctuary.” Book Sanctuaries are designated areas where endangered stories will be protected and made accessible for exploration or checkout.
“A vital part of my mission is to ensure that the freedom to read is not compromised,” Library Director Allison Grubbs wrote in a statement. “The right to think, speak and learn freely are foundational values in our democracy and in our libraries.”
This means that not only are pins and signs shown throughout the library, but books that are the subject of bans and challenges were made available by private donors to be freely handed out to patrons of the library- all in an effort to combat book bans.
At the recent party in Stirling Road Library, copies of “Maus,” “I am Billie Jean King,” “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” and “Fifty Shades of Grey” were just some of the books being handed out.
The interest in banned books can reflect the current political climate and increased censorship in America’s public schools. As more people become aware of this issue, they search for ways to combat it and find out which authors have been affected by censorship.
To better understand this phenomenon, A Dime Saved performed a study using Google Trends search volume data over the past 90-day period (February to May of 2023) to establish what authors and books consumers and readers were looking for. Popular searches included “banned books,” “banned book list,” and “list of banned books,” and analyzed the top books and authors those in the US also searched for.
While these topics have increased over the past 90 days, the rising interest in banned books on Google Trends can be observed over the last year.
Ann Frank was the trending search topic in relation to the term “banned books” in the US. Google Trends searches volume data to analyze to establish what authors and books consumers were looking for during the rise of banned books in the US during this period.
The trending searched authors include (Anne Frank, Rosa Parks, Judy Bloom & Jodi Picoult) while trending searched for books include: This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.
“Reading is important,” says Robyn Goldfarb, founder of A Dime Saved, “Reading about different topics can expand our knowledge beyond what we personally experience in our lives so reading about uncomfortable topics or about events that took place to other people in different times can give us an understanding and realization beyond what we can gain in our personal lives.”
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