Boston Public Library Joins Books Unbanned Initiative to Fight Censorship

Books Unbanned cards provide access to e-books and e-audiobooks for teens and young adults nationwide

BOSTON, MA – September 28, 2023– The Boston Public Library (BPL) is joining the Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned initiative to fight censorship and book banning by offering teens and young adults across the nation free access to e-books and e-audiobooks from its digital collection. The BPL is the third library to enter the growing network, joining Seattle Public Library.  

Teens and young adults ages 13 to 26 who live in the United States can now sign up for a free eCard from the BPL, which allows them access to frequently challenged and banned e-books and e-audiobooks from the BPL's collection. The simple application is available at 

"As we head into Banned Books Week, an annual event that highlights the value of free and open access to information, we are proud to stand with the Brooklyn Public Library and Seattle Public Library to uphold intellectual freedom and the right to read,” said BPL President David Leonard. “By joining this initiative, we embrace the opportunity to champion the principle of access for individuals across the nation who face limitations in reaching content and are unable to advocate for themselves.” 

“Since we launched Books Unbanned in April of 2022, we have heard from thousands of young people across the country who are witnessing the very demise of democracy as books rejected by a few loud voices are removed from the shelves for all,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library. “We are excited to welcome Boston Public Library to Books Unbanned. Together, with our partners in Seattle, we will ensure that every young person in the nation has free and open access to books from all points of view.” 

Books Unbanned helps counter the series of increasingly coordinated and effective efforts to remove books from public and school libraries across the nation. The American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom reported that so far 2023 has seen a 20 percent increase in attempts to censor library books and resources. 

The BPL’s Books Unbanned initiative is funded through private support raised by the Boston Public Library Fund, the philanthropic arm of the BPL.  Individuals interested in how the Fund supports Books Unbanned can learn more at 

"We’re committed to supporting the Boston Public Library in building a more informed, enlightened, and inclusive society, where the power of ideas knows no boundaries,” said Paula Sakey, Executive Director of the Boston Public Library Fund. “By funding the Books Unbanned card, we can invest in a brighter future by ensuring that younger generations aren’t faced with limitations to access.” 

The BPL’s Books Unbanned card is valid for one year and is designed to complement access to resources for teens in their local communities. Teens and young adults who sign up can check out a maximum of 10 titles at a time and place a maximum of 10 holds. The Books Unbanned card provides access to a collection curated from BPL’s digital holdings of more than 300,000 e-books and e-audiobooks. Cardholders can place holds and check out e-books and e-audiobooks on the BPL’s online catalog. 

In addition to launching Books Unbanned, the BPL is hosting the event Let Freedom Read: Statewide Read-In to Fight Censorship on September 30 from 10:00am – 12:00pm at the Central Library in Copley Square.  Freedom to read is a fundamental pillar of upholding democracy; during Banned Book Week, libraries across the Commonwealth will celebrate the freedom to read with a statewide read-in. Patrons are welcome to join the silent read-in and demonstrate their support in the fight against book bans.



Established in 1848, the Boston Public Library is a pioneer of public library service in America. It was the first large, free municipal library in the United States; the first public library to lend books; the first to have a branch library; and the first to have a children’s room.  

The Boston Public Library of today is a robust system that includes the Central Library in Copley Square, 25 neighborhood branches, the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center, the Kirstein Business and Innovation Center, and an archival center, offering public access to world-class special collections of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and prints, along with rich digital content and online services.  

The Boston Public Library serves nearly 4 million visitors per year and millions more online. All of its programs and exhibitions are free to all and open to the public. The Boston Public Library is a department of the City of Boston, under the leadership of Mayor Michelle Wu. To learn more, visit 


The mission of the Fund is to provide financial support to the Boston Public Library, ensuring that it remains viable, engaging, accessible, and free to all. The Fund fulfills this mission by working in partnership with the Library, donors, and other funders in supporting BPL programs and special initiatives. Support from the Fund supplements, but does not supplant, other BPL resources, including City of Boston funding.   


Brooklyn Public Library is one of the nation’s largest library systems and among New York City’s most democratic institutions. As a leader in developing modern 21st century libraries, we provide resources to support personal advancement, foster civic literacy, and strengthen the fabric of community among the more than 2.7 million individuals who call Brooklyn home. We provide nearly 65,000 free programs a year with writers, thinkers, artists, and educators—from around the corner and around the world. And we give patrons millions of opportunities to enjoy one of life’s greatest satisfactions: the joy of a good book.