Freedom to Read Week, Feb. 18-24

Posted on 21 February 2024 by Chris Brown.

Freedom to Read Week is celebrated each February, a week dedicated to encouraging Canadians to reflect on and reaffirm their commitment to intellectual freedom. 

Freedom to Read Week, from Feb. 18-24 this year, celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2024. It is a nationwide campaign that aims to unite readers, writers, publishers, schools, libraries, bookstores, universities, colleges and other organizations across Canada.

Intellectual freedom challenges are on the rise in Canada, more than doubling in the two most recent 12-month periods. 

“During the reference period from September 1, 2022 to August 31, 2023, Canadian libraries reported 118 intellectual freedom challenges—up from 55 in the previous twelve-month period and 46 in the twelve months before that,” writes Michael Nyby, a public school librarian, database specialist and vice-chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the Canadian Federation of Library Associations.

“In fact, these 118 reports represent the highest number ever recorded in Canada in a single twelve-month period. That said, it is important to recognize that this number likely represents a very small portion of actual censorship efforts in Canadian libraries. It is widely believed that most difficulties encountered by libraries go unreported to library organizations.”

Of the 118 reported challenges, 44 were to titles and events with perceived pro-LGBTQIA2S+ content, representing 38% of all reported challenges. In contrast, challenges of this nature made up a mere 8% of all challenges reported between January 2015 and December 2021.  

Freedom to Read Week is led by Library and Archives Canada, the Canadian Urban Libraries Council, and the Ontario Library Association in partnership with the Book and Periodical Council.

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