Program Challenges

Library program challenges involve attempts to restrict or suppress certain content or topics featured in library events, workshops, or presentations.

Library Program Challenges Overview

A library program challenge occurs when individuals or groups express objections or seek to restrict a particular program or event hosted by a library. Library program challenges can infringe upon intellectual freedom by attempting to limit access to information, ideas, and diverse perspectives and varied lived experiences that these programs offer. They can impede the free exchange of knowledge, hinder opportunities for learning and engagement, and stifle the exploration of controversial or challenging topics.
Early literacy teacher reading to a class of preschool kids

How Do Library Program Challenges Infringe Upon Our Intellectual Freedom?

Restricting Access to Information

By challenging or seeking to cancel specific library programs, individuals or groups limit the availability of diverse ideas, perspectives, and information. This restriction denies individuals the opportunity to explore and engage with a wide range of viewpoints.

Limiting Educational Opportunities

Library programs serve as important educational resources on a wide array of topics that many patrons may not have access to otherwise. Challenges that result in program cancellations or delays restrict access to valuable educational opportunities and inhibit lifelong learning.


Library program challenges often aim to censor or remove programs that present controversial or challenging content. This censorship suppresses free expression and limits the open exchange of ideas and knowledge within the community.


Library program challenges pose a threat to our democracy by restricting public access to a variety of educational and cultural events. By censoring or canceling programs, we undermine the democratic principle of free expression and open dialogue.

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 library program 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!

PDF icon.

Drag Story Hour Planning & Safety Support Guide

This toolkit was developed by Urban Librarians Unite to guide library workers on how to stand up for their communities safely and effectively while planning Drag Story Hours.

Toolkit icon.

Resource Guide for Library Safety and Preparedness

Learn more about Library Safety and Preparedness using the American Library Association’s resource guide.

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