Book Sanctuaries: Committed to Protecting Banned and Challenged Books

Chicago Public Library has declared itself a sanctuary for endangered stories, establishing Book Sanctuaries across 77 distinct neighborhoods and 81 library branches. Each Book Sanctuary will provide opportunities to expand local access to banned or challenged books. We invite book lovers across the country to do the same at

What is a Book Sanctuary?

A Book Sanctuary can exist anywhere: in a library, a classroom, a coffee shop, a public park or even a bedroom bookshelf. Most importantly, Book Sanctuary owners provide unwavering support and protection for the freedom to read. It's easy to start a Book Sanctuary. You can:

  • Collect and protect endangered books
  • Make those books broadly accessible
  • Host book talks and events to generate conversation, including story times focused on diverse characters and stories
  • Educate others on the history of book banning and burning

How to Get Involved

Make a pledge on the Book Sanctuary website and establish your own safe space for stories. Also accessible through the website is a blueprint for starting a Book Sanctuary, which includes a guide, social icons, images, posters to print and more.

Access Banned and Challenged Books

For years, books celebrating different perspectives and marginalized voices have been targeted for removal from library collections all around the country. Challenged books of the last year include The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds, which take on issues of race and police brutality, and Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin and Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe which tackle topics of sexuality and gender identity. CPL has expanded access to these titles and others to the broader Chicago community. Access these books and more through your local community library.

From September to December, CPL is also hosting One Book, One Chicago, the annual citywide literary program that connects Chicagoans and their communities around a single book. This year’s book selection is Maus by Art Spiegelman, one of the country’s most frequently challenged books. There are numerous opportunities for the community to get involved, join conversations and connect with fellow book lovers on this important book. Visit for more information.

Book Sanctuaries are part of a broader campaign to engage people across the country in “The Read-sistance” to protect their right to read. The campaign, concepted by Edelman, was developed in partnership with Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), and American Library Association (ALA).