challenges

The Library Research Service’s latest Fast Facts report summarizes the results of our yearly investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries across Colorado. The report details the format, intended audience, reasons, and resolutions of challenges that were reported in the 2015 Public Library Annual Report. The information provided about these challenges help us to determine the attitude towards intellectual freedom in Colorado public libraries each year and to track changes over time.

In 2015, the number of challenges remained relatively consistent with what was reported in 2013 and 2014 – hovering just under 30 challenges across the three-year period.

Adults remained the most common audience for challenged materials, with 7 out of 10 (70%) challenges in 2015. However, challenges for children’s materials rose to just under a quarter (24%) of all challenges, up from 12% in 2014, and challenges for young adult material rose to about 1 out of every 5 (17%) challenges. As in 2014, the most common way to handle a challenge was to make no change at all, although there was an increase in librarians finding creative solutions to deal with complaints (“other” solutions were found for 10% of challenges). While “sexually explicit” remained the top reason for challenging an item, representing just over a quarter (26%) of all challenges, “violence” dropped from the second most frequent reason, with “unsuited to age group” and “other” rising to take its place.

The formats of materials challenged varied greatly in 2015 compared to previous years. Like last year, videos and books were the items challenged most, together comprising 80% of all challenges. However, there were no computer challenges in 2015, although that format made up about a third (32%) of all challenges the previous year. Formats that were challenged in 2015, but not in 2014, include periodicals, activities, and others (such as audiobooks and music). We can’t be sure about the reason for increasing challenges of various formats, but it may correspond with the expansion of the types of materials and programs offered by public libraries.

For more breakdowns of this data, check out the full 2015 Challenged Materials in Colorado Public Libraries Fast Facts report.

Note: This post is part of our series, “The LRS Number.” In this series, we highlight statistics that help tell the story of the 21st-century library.