How to Access Banned Books If Your Local Library Sucks
Book banning is one of the neighbors’ curiosities that is slowly becoming popular. We are currently experiencing one such wave in which parents and concerned citizens are “challenging” – and in some cases successfully removing – books from schools and local libraries. Books with black and/or LGBTQ+ characters and authors are often the first to challenge. If you live in one of these areas – and especially if you’re a teenager (or know a teenager) whose school library banned a bunch of books you want to read – you should know that you have other ways to check those books. . Libraries in other states can help.
How online library cards work
Every library system is different, but many libraries allow you to view e-books as part of their regular collection. And libraries often operate within the county or state system, so even if the library on the street doesn’t have a particular book, you can find an electronic copy somewhere else in the system.
E-books are usually available for “checking out” by one visitor at a time, which means there may be a waiting list. But the process is pretty simple: you usually just need to download an app like Libby , link it to your library card, and find whatever you want to read.
How to get a library card from out of state
Okay, what if your entire library system sucks and they just don’t have the books you need physically or electronically? This is where you might consider getting a non-resident library card.
First, before you travel out of state, check to see if there are libraries in your state that give out cards that you can use to check eBooks. Even if they are a few hours away, they can issue cards to anyone in the state, and then you can go.
After that look from the state. Many libraries allow out-of-towners to get a card for a fee. For example, the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh charges $30 every two years if you’re not from Pennsylvania. The only catch is that you have to apply and renew in person. This might be a good option if you visit the area regularly and want to be able to access e-books from home.
Here are some libraries that offer cards for non-residents without visiting the library in person:
- Brooklyn Public Library ($50/year)
- New York Public Library ($50/year)
- Monroe County Public Library (New York) ($25/year)
- Orange County Library (Florida) ($125/year)
- Charlotte Mecklenberg Library (North Carolina) ($45/year)
- Chapel Hill Public Library (North Carolina) ($65/year)
- Houston Public Library ($40/year)
- Fairfax County Library (Virginia) ($27/year)
Be sure to double check that you qualify and that the library you are looking for offers the books or resources you are looking for. Some libraries offer more books or services than others, hence the different fees.
Projects with banned books can help
The Brooklyn Public Library has a project called Books Unbanned , which provides resources for teens who are facing book bans in their local library. They have a teen intellectual freedom council that you can contact via email or direct on Instagram if you want to get in touch or ask for help. They also try to keep books banned by other libraries, and many of them are available out of the queue . The New York Public Library also has a “Books for All” initiative in which they have made several frequently banned books available without a waiting list or even a library card .