In an effort to combat literary censorship, Toronto Public Library is launching its new Book Sanctuary Collection which features a number of books banned in different institutions across North America.
The Book Sanctuary Collection will feature 50 titles, with no discrimination for the target audience. Adult, teen, and children’s books will be available in the collection. Some titles include To Kill A Mockingbird, The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Maus, and The Hunger Games.
“TPL’s Book Sanctuary Collection represents books that have been challenged, censored or removed from a public library or school in North America,” the Toronto Public Library wrote in its announcement. “The 50 adult, teen and children’s books in our collection are available for browsing and borrowing in our branches and online.”
Chicago Public Library launched The Book Sanctuary in 2022 in order to preserve controversial books even if they don’t agree with their overall sentiments.
“Libraries in North America are facing an increased number of book challenges,” Matt Abbott, Manager of Collection Development at Toronto Public Library, told the Toronto Star. “TPL’s position is that removing challenged books from a library collection can decrease access to information, suppress civic engagement and silence voices, especially those of more marginalized communities.”
Since 2016, different government officials across North America have begun efforts to ban books that don’t align with their political interests. Last year, the state of Texas banned Brampton poet Rupi Kaur’s book Milk and Honey.
To coincide with the launch of the Book Sanctuary, TPL will also launch a new set of programs called “On Civil Society,” where it will host in-person and online discussions dedicated to “exploring and discussing topics related to intellectual freedom.”
The first event will take place today, Feb 23, at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon where Richard Ovenden, Director of the Bodleian Libraries and Head of Gardens Libraries and Museums at the University of Oxford, will lead.