Hey, there! Log in / Register

Boston Public Library to offer free access to its online books and audio to teens, young adults in book-banning states

BPL announced yesterday it's expanding access to its growing online catalog of ebooks and audio nationwide, joining libraries in Brooklyn and Seattle in an effort to fight censorship and let people between 13 and 26 read and listen to books that offend their elders in power.

In a statement, BPL President David Leonard said:

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. 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.

The BPL Books Unbanned collection currently has several thousand titles.

Books Unbanned application.
Contribute to Books Unbanned.

Neighborhoods: 
Free tagging: 


Ad:


Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!

Comments

.

up
Voting closed 0

and I've never been prouder to be a Bostonian.

up
Voting closed 1

I assume, or certainly hope, this also means access to the original versions of books by Roald Dahl and Mark Twain, to name two, where passages related to weight, gender, race and mental health status have been altered or "updated' in recent years to reflect the modern sensitivities of some elders in power. The practice of presentism at it's worst. Don't tamper with the classics. They rise and fall on their own merits.

up
Voting closed 0

where passages related to weight, gender, race and mental health status have been altered or "updated' in recent years to reflect the modern sensitivities of some elders in power

Got a cite for that? Specific examples, editions, page numbers, etc.? And their presence in the BPL catalog?

(of course you don't)

The practice of presentism at it's worst

"its"

up
Voting closed 0

Even a cursory search of the internet cites numerous articles. Here's one from NPR about the Dahl books:

https://www.npr.org/2023/02/21/1158347261/roald-dahl-books-changed-offen....

"New editions of legendary works by British author Roald Dahl are being edited to remove words that could be deemed offensive to some readers, according to the late writer's company.

Dahl wrote such books as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

British newspaper The Telegraph first reported that the publisher of Dahl's books, Puffin, made hundreds of changes to original texts of the author's well-known children's books."

up
Voting closed 0

The challenge put to you was:

Got a cite for that? Specific examples, editions, page numbers, etc.? And their presence in the BPL catalog?

So, in response to that, you provide one article, about one author, with no information about whether any of these revisions that upset you so are actually present in the BPL catalog. You failed.

This leads me to wonder exactly what your interest is here. Bear in mind that your non sequitur was in response to a post about BPL making its catalog available to young people who may live in regions where certain books are banned. You seem to feel that revising a later edition of a work is tantamount to book banning. It is not. The intention of book bans is to remove them entirely from the public view, to make them unavailable to all or a broad class of people. That is precisely the purpose of the book bans that BPL is responding to. In contrast, while it's possible to have long debates about the wisdom or advisability or artistic integrity of altering racist, sexist or homophobic language in a previously published work, it is not possible to honestly state that this has the effect or even the intention of preventing anyone from seeing those words. Your cherished old racist and sexist and homophobic classics will still continue to exist. But not everyone feels the need to continue to publish them, or stock them, or give them shelf space. If a bookstore decided not to sell a book such as "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" -- or for that matter, "The Chronicles of Narnia", which is also terribly racist -- do you feel they should be compelled to do so?

up
Voting closed 0

And it's ok to point that out. We should free ourselves of the tyranny of the cannon.

Very few things have evergreen shelflives.

up
Voting closed 0

So you are FOR the changing (censoring) of some books because to your mind they are "shit"? There are some mighty mixed messages in this thread.

up
Voting closed 0

There are plenty of places on the interwebs where you can still enjoy people saying the n word and other slurs.

That seems very important to you.

up
Voting closed 0

There is, or should be, a wide gulf between saying that a book is a smoldering pile of feces and saying that said book should be banned.

Any true opponent of censorship would embrace the books that they wouldn't in a million years even recommend to their enemies let alone read themselves, because at the end of the day it is up to the reader to decide on their own.

up
Voting closed 1

Roald Dahl is shit. Even the Roald Dahl museum acknowledges that he was antisemitic.

Furthermore, in Willy Wonka, Dahl writes that the Oompa Loompas were “imported” (yes, “imported”) from “the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had been before” to “work” at Wonka’s factory.

It’s classic alright. Classic white supremacy.

Sure, keep it in the library. But bear in mind hundreds of thousands of works have been written since 1964 and many, perhaps most, don’t feature antisemitism and anti-Black racism.

If your kid wants to read the original Willy Wonka, let them. But it doesn’t need to be on the recommended reading list.

And if they do read it, we both agree they should read the unaltered original to expose Dahl as a piece of shit.

up
Voting closed 1

Leaving aside the topic of Roald Dahl’s character (but yeah, like many human beings, it’s complicated and parts are dark), I feel the need to point out that an author is not the same as their characters.

It was pretty clear to me as a 6th grader, when I first read that book, that Dahl meant Wonka to be a seriously screwed up maniac. W is a grasping industrialist who explicitly rejects the natural world, uses slave labor, maybe kills six children in the course of an afternoon, and at the end he takes the “good” child and performs what he admits might be a double murder-suicide.

The book is hilarious and great fun, but its not nice and clearly was never intended to be. It was meant to be subversive, biting satire.

up
Voting closed 1

. . .drawings of the Oomp Loompas? They’re horribly racist. And they reflect Dahl’s writing.

Let’s be clear. Anti-semites like Dahl are being “censored” today, not because of the “woke mob,” but because publishers want to sell books. We know this because the original Oompa Loompa drawings were horribly racist and already superseded in the 1970s. Publishers knew in the 70s that Dahl was problematic and made adjustments. And they are doing the same in 2023.

Dahl’s IP is waaaayyy less valuable unaltered, and for very good reason, and publishers act accordingly. Yet lazy folks want to blame it on the mythical “woke mob.”

up
Voting closed 1

“ … in an effort to fight censorship and let people between 13 and 26 read and listen to books that offend their elders in power.”

Why is the assumption that it’s the elders who are offended? Plenty elders in those states would welcome access to banned books as well.

up
Voting closed 0

I suspect the answer is mainly due to the way the next-step-we-burn-books crowd is having books pulled left and right from school libraries (well, in places they still school libraries, e.g., Dallas). Presumably, adults still have access to Ulysses and stuff in the adult section of their local library, at least until the Nazi cows take their next step.

up
Voting closed 1

Often this is related to "ban everything gay" movements that target drag performances, etc. Libraries in some conservative communities have even withdrawn their membership in the American Library Association because of the ALA encouraging the reading of banned books.

(also, just learned that there is apparently a character limit in the UHub "Subject" field.)

up
Voting closed 0

You're right - everybody come to Boston (at least electronically).

up
Voting closed 0

@Lee - It's the elders in power (not all elders) who are working to keep books they disagree with from kids and out of schools. At least for now, these books aren't completely banned from any state so the elders can read them without barriers. It's the kids who have lost access.

up
Voting closed 0

let people between 13 and 26 read and listen to books that offend their elders in power

Emphasis mine.

In this context, I think that "elders" is simply relative to those between 13 and 26. Who do you think has power and is advocating book bans? Certainly it's not everyone over 26, but it's very few people under 26 and certainly under 18.

up
Voting closed 1