Starting today, the NYPL announced that they will grant readers free digital access to commonly banned books, via E-reading app SimplyE.
Anyone in the United States is now eligible to download SimplyE for unlimited access to the e-book from of commonly banned novels. The app charges no fines and is entirely free to use and download.
The initiative titled “Books For All” is in response to recent efforts attempting to or accomplishing the banning of certain books across public libraries and schools in the nation. Made possible thanks to the NYPL’s partnership with publishers Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers, and Scholastic, the selection of e-books will be available with no waits and no fines through the end of May.
Books For All “underscores the importance of open and free access to knowledge, information, and all perspectives: one of the key missions of public libraries since their inception, and a principle at the foundation of the country’s democracy of informed citizens,” shared a recent NYPL press release.
Readers can find the wide selection of “unbanned books” by opening the SimplyE app and browsing under the Books for All Collection.
Current books available on the app include: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, and Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. For children readers (under the age of 13) only King and the Dragonflies is available due to library policies.
Public libraries have long fought against book bans as their core principles rely on public access to knowledge. Yet, the American Library Association (ALA) reported that in the year 2021, there were more than double the amount of book challenges than in 2019. Challenged books tend to surround topics on race, LGBTQ+ issues, religion, and history.
“These recent instances of censorship and book banning are extremely disturbing and amount to an all-out attack on the very foundation of our democracy,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “All people have the right to read or not read what they want. We are all entitled to make those choices. But to protect those freedoms, the books and information must remain available. Any effort to eliminate those choices stands in opposition to freedom of choice, and we cannot let that happen.”
Other efforts are being made against such infringements, as the NYPL puts on additional programs discussing banned books and the Brooklyn Public Library even hosts a Books Unbanned Teen Council.
Learn more about Books For All here.