An American History of Book Banning.”

“Restricted Access: An American History of Book Banning” event was held at the New York Public Library on September 21, 2022. A video recording is available here and also embedded below.

From the description:

Presented in partnership with PEN America.

Censorship and book bans are nothing new in American life. In the 19th century, it was the federal Comstock laws barring the delivery and distribution of “every obscene, lewd, or lascivious” book. Today books that highlight race, gender, or sexuality are being yanked from public shelves around the country. According to the American Library Association, the number of banned and challenged books doubled from 2020 to 2021, reaching the highest number they’ve ever counted.

A panel of authors, scholars, and critics speak with MSNBC’s Ali Velshi to reflect on the current climate around book bans, and to situate our moment within the history of censorship in the United States. Actor Andre De Shieldsone of the stars of the upcoming revival of Death of a Salesmanwill open the evening reading a passage from Toni Morrison.


  • Andre De Shieldsreading Toni Morrison
  • Laurie Halse Andersonauthor of the banned book Speak
  • Farah Jasmine Griffinauthor of Read Until You Understand
  • Whitney StrubAssociate Professor, American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  • Amy Werbelauthor of Lust on Trial: Censorship and the Rise of American Obscenity in the Age of Anthony Comstock
  • moderated by Ali Velshihost of MSNBC’s Velshi

Filed under: Libraries, News, Public Libraries, Video Recordings

About Gary Price

Gary Price ([email protected]) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington DC metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.

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