Book Display Challenges

A book display challenge refers to a situation where individuals or groups raise objections or express discontent about the content or themes presented in a library’s book display. Fighting against it involves education, advocacy, and community engagement to promote intellectual freedom and defend the right to access information and ideas without censorship.

Book Display Challenges Overview

A book display challenge refers to a situation where individuals or groups object to the content or themes presented in a library’s book display. It involves expressing dissatisfaction or requesting the removal of certain books from the display due to their perceived controversial, sensitive, or offensive nature. These challenges often arise from differing perspectives, personal beliefs, or concerns about age-appropriate material. These challenges require careful consideration of diverse viewpoints while upholding the principles of intellectual freedom and access to information.
Young couple looking at magazines in the library together.

How Do Book Display Challenges Infringe Upon Intellectual Freedom?


By having an individual or group request the removal or restriction of certain books from a display, these individuals seek to control what others can access and read, limiting the free flow of ideas and information for all.

Suppression of Diverse Perspectives

Book display challenges often arise from a disagreement with the ideas or themes presented in the books. By removing these books from display in our libraries, challengers aim to limit exposure to diverse perspectives and stifle the opportunity for individuals to engage with differing viewpoints and lived experiences.

Denial of Individual Choice

Diversity people readers male and female characters reading books while sitting on book pile.

Intellectual freedom includes the right of individuals to choose what they read and engage with. Book display challenges infringe upon this right by seeking to dictate what materials should be available, potentially depriving individuals of the opportunity to make their own decisions about what they find valuable or meaningful.

Access To Information

Book display challenges jeopardize access to information by limiting the visibility and availability of diverse perspectives. When books are removed or hidden from public view due to censorship, individuals are denied the opportunity to engage with a wide range of ideas, hindering their ability to make informed decisions and impeding intellectual growth.

What Can You Do

We all have a role to play in protecting intellectual freedom. Here are some ways you can get involved in the fight against book display challenges.

Library Staff & Board Members

Learn more about how library staff and library board members can join us in defending intellectual freedom in your library.

Community Members

Are you a community member and a library advocate? You can also join us in defending intellectual freedom in your community!

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Intellectual Freedom Resources for Trustees, Friends, & Foundations

Learn how to engage your Trustees, Friends, and Foundations utilizing the American Library Association’s toolkit using the link below.

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Ask The Lawyer: Collection Management Policy Resources

Learn how to ensure your public libraries can have policies ready for when you may be facing a materials or book display challenge using the link below.

Contact Us

Free For All: New Yorkers for Intellectual Freedom is dedicated to ensuring library workers and librarians are supported and prepared for any intellectual freedom challenges they may experience.

We want to hear from you! Please use the form to contact us and someone from the FFANY team will get back to you.

*These numbers are from the American Library Association in their 2023 National Report