On April 13, the American Library Association released its report on the 2014 State of America's Libraries during National Library Week, April 13–19, detailing library trends of the past year. Its findings include:
The ALA is on the forefront of efforts to shore up support for school libraries.
On another front, Banned Books Week, sponsored by the ALA and other organizations, highlights the benefits of free access to information and the perils of censorship by spotlighting the actual or attempted banning of books.
A perennial highlight of Banned Books Week is the Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books, compiled annually by the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). The OIF collects reports on book challenges from librarians, teachers, concerned individuals, and press reports. A challenge is defined as a formal written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that a book or other material be restricted or removed because of its content or appropriateness. In 2013, the OIF received hundreds of reports on attempts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.
The most challenged books of the year were:
Libraries witnessed a number of developments in 2013 in the area of ebooks and copyright issues. Ebooks continue to make gains among reading Americans, according to another Pew Research Center survey, but few readers have completely replaced print with digital editions—and the advent of digital reading brings with it a continuing tangle of legal issues involving publishers and libraries.
“Print remains the foundation of Americans’ reading habits,” the Pew researchers found. Most people who read ebooks also read print books, they reported, and only 4% of readers described themselves as “ebook only.” After years of conflict between publishers and libraries, 2013 ended with all the major US publishers participating in the library ebook market, though important challenges, such as availability and prices, remain.
In November 2013, after eight years of litigation, a federal court upheld the fair use doctrine when it dismissed Authors Guild v. Google, et al., a case that questioned the legality of Google’s searchable database of more than 20 million books. In his decision, the judge referenced an amicus brief coauthored by the ALA that enumerated the public benefits of Google Book Search. The Authors Guild has filed an appeal.
Other key trends detailed in the 2014 State of America’s Libraries report: