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Books Unbanned

Books Unbanned - LA County Library

Books Unbanned Card for California Teens

Your freedom to read is a fundamental right. To help support teenagers ages 13-18 years old in California, LA County Library’s Books Unbanned initiative offers free and unrestricted access to the Library’s entire digital eBook and audiobook collection on Libby, by OverDrive, which includes many frequently-banned titles. The Books Unbanned card allows 5 check outs at a time and is valid for one year.

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Support Books Unbanned

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Interested in donating to help us expand our collection of eBooks and audiobooks? Books Unbanned is funded by private gifts to LA County Library Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the Library’s programs and services.

Preserve Your Intellectual Freedom

Your freedom to read is a fundamental right. Reading is among our greatest freedoms and provides endless opportunities for people to learn about different life experiences, cultures, and the world. As a champion for intellectual freedom, LA County Library has partnered with Brooklyn Public Library and Seattle Public Library to join the Books Unbanned initiative, a response to the growing number of book bans and challenges cropping up across the nation. Boston Public Library and San Diego Public Library are also joining Books Unbanned.

What is LA County Library’s Books Unbanned Initiative?

LA County Library’s Books Unbanned initiative offers teenagers ages 13 – 18 across California free and unrestricted access to the Library’s entire digital eBook and audiobook collection on Libby, by OverDrive, which includes many frequently-banned titles, making it possible for teenagers to read what they want so they can develop their own informed opinions on various issues and topics.

We developed the Books Unbanned digital card in response to a June 2023 motion from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, authored by Supervisors Lindsey P. Horvath and Janice Hahn, which directed the Library to expand the availability of library cards to teens statewide in an effort to support young people without access to certain banned books, and to determine how to fund the purchase of additional eBook and audiobook copies of frequently banned titles.

Are book bans still occurring?

In 2022, The American Library Association (ALA) documented 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources, the highest number of attempted book bans since ALA began compiling data about censorship in libraries more than 20 years ago. Most of these censorship attempts targeted books for a teen audience and were by or about Black or LGBTQIA+ persons.

Why is it important to preserve intellectual freedom?

Reading and accessing a wide variety of content can help open doors and create opportunities for people to advance their education and careers. It also helps people obtain unfiltered information that they can use to thoughtfully contribute to civil discourse on a range of complex topics, such as the right to vote, the environment, and the history and origins of inequities in society. You can learn more about your freedom to read by reading ALA’s Freedom to Read Statement.

Explore Our Digital Collection

Our OverDrive collection includes thousands of eBooks and audiobooks for you to check out and read or listen to. Read on your computer or use the Libby app to get books on your phone, tablet, or Kindle.

Banned Books   |   Teen Collection   |   Full Collection

Many banned or challenged books are by or about Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), or LGBTQ+ people and explore their experiences, stories, histories and movements. Reading these books can help you understand yourself and connect to others.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can get a card?

Anyone ages 13-18 living in the state of California can get a Books Unbanned card. Sign up for a card here.

Can I access other Library resources with a Books Unbanned card?

The Books Unbanned card only gives you access to our eBook and audiobook collection on Libby. If you live in the LA County area and would like to take advantage of all LA County Library has to offer, sign up for an LA County Library card here.

If I already have an LA County Library card, do I need a Books Unbanned card?

No, your LA County Library card already gives you access to our full collection of eBooks and audiobooks and more.

How do I borrow and read using Libby, by OverDrive?

Your card gives you access to LA County Library’s entire OverDrive collection of eBooks, audiobooks, and digital magazines. Download the Libby, by OverDrive app. It’s available for iOS (iPhone and iPads), Android, or Amazon Kindle Fire. Or, you can use the Libby website.

Once the app is installed, find our library by searching LA County Library (Los Angeles). Pick Books Unbanned Card as the card (do not pick LA County Library). Log in using your new Books Unbanned card number and 4-digit PIN, then browse our collection and find an eBook or audiobook to borrow or place on hold. Borrow up to 5 items at a time for up to 21 days. Checkouts automatically expire at the end of the lending period – no returns necessary.

If you have any questions, contact us at BooksUnbanned@library.lacounty.gov.

How many books can I check out?

With the Books Unbanned card you can check out up to 5 books at a time.

How long can I check books out?

Using Libby, you can borrow up to 5 items for up to 21 days. Checkouts automatically expire at the end of the lending period – no returns necessary.

How long will my Books Unbanned card be valid?

Your card will be valid for one year, with the possibility of renewal.

Will anyone know what books I've checked out?

No. As part of our commitment to preserving your intellectual freedom, we protect your privacy and keep information about you and your use of the Library confidential. Confidentiality extends to all records with identifying information about you, including your requests for materials and borrowing history. We will not disclose individual customer information except as necessary for the proper operation of the Library, upon your consent or as required by law. We do aggregate and analyze collective customer data to understand and support community interest, however this data does not identify individuals. View our Privacy Policy.

How is Books Unbanned funded?

LA County Library’s Books Unbanned card is funded by private support through LA County Library Foundation. People interested in making a contribution to support this initiative can give directly to LA County Library Foundation.

Educational Resources

Banned Book Week

Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week (October 1-7, 2023) celebrates the freedom to read, which spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools.

For more than 40 years, the annual event has brought together the entire book community—librarians, teachers, booksellers, publishers, writers, journalists, and readers of all types—in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular!

Banned Books Week
A History of Banned Books Week

Let Freedom Read

American Library Association

ALA’s mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

Censorship by the Numbers in the US

Top 13 Most Challenged Books

Freedom to Read Statement

Your Library Bill of Rights

Report Censorship

Anti-Censorship Resources

Anti-Censorship Resources

The National Coalition Against Censorship tracks book challenges in schools and libraries, as well as censorship of art, journalism, and other types of student expression in schools.

Youth Censorship Database

PEN America champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Their mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

PEN American 2022-23 Report: Banned in the USA

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