banned books toronto library

Toronto library creates section for controversial books banned in other places

In an era of such extreme political polarity, the written word can be subject to intense scrutiny as both ends of the political spectrum attempt to set boundaries on what can and can't be said in print.

Schools and libraries in the United States have been subject to increasingly strict bans on books, particularly in Republican-held states, as part of the country's intensifying culture war.

But the problem has reared its head in Canada too, including controversial book burnings by a group of Ontario schools in 2021.

The Toronto Public Library (TPL) is taking a stance against censorship through its Book Sanctuary Collection, a collection of 50 books that TPL states "have been challenged, censored or removed from a public library or school in North America."

According to TPL, the books have been made available throughout the 100 branches across Toronto, stating that the collection is part of the library's "commitment to protecting and promoting intellectual freedom."

TPL says in its promotional material for the collection that it aims to defend "intellectual freedom across our collections, programs and spaces."

"Intellectual freedom challenges can limit access to information, suppress civic engagement, and silence voices, especially those of more marginalized communities. These challenges are coming from all sides of the political and social spectrum."

Some of the books shown in the collection include well-known works of literature like Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and George Orwell's dystopian classic, 1984.

You can even find pop-culture phenomena like The Hunger Games among these censored and banned works.

Several of the works focus on LGBTQIA+ culture and issues, like Juno Dawson's This Book Is Gay, while others focus on political extremism, like Art Spiegelman's Holocaust-inspired graphic novel, Maus.

Lead photo by

Toronto Public Library


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