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Readers across the US can check out banned books from New York Public Library

According to the American Library Association, more attempts were made to ban books in 2021 than any other time since it started tracking bans two decades ago. And most of the titles being removed from schools and public libraries deal with racism, gender and sexuality.

To fight that censorship and "to make sure no perspective, no idea, no identity is erased," the New York Public Library is allowing people across the US to digitally check out a selection of unbanned books at no charge.

In partnership with publishers Hachette, Macmillan and Scholastic, NYPL is offering immediate access to four titles that have been banned or challenged. No need for a library card and no wait times or late fees — people just download the library's free e-reader app, SimplyE, and go to the Books for All Collection. The initiative runs through the end of May 2022.

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Governments worldwide are struggling to uphold — or are even actively undermining — the cornerstones of democracy. So it's no wonder that people are looking to other public and private entities to stand up for principles like free speech and equality.

It's not enough to speak out. Like the NYPL, organizations need to tap into their resources and act. Whether it's book bans or other issues: what is antithetical to your brand values? And what are you going to do about it?