Reported challenges in Colorado’s public libraries nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017

LRS’s latest Fast Facts report summarizes the results of our annual investigation into the materials that are challenged in public libraries across Colorado. This Fast Facts details the number, type, and reasons for the challenges reported in the 2017 Public Library Annual Report. The information that public libraries provided to us about these challenges help demonstrate the attitude toward intellectual freedom in Colorado now and over time.

The number of challenges reported in Colorado nearly doubled from last year, rising from 22 challenges reported in 2016 to 41 challenges in 2017. It is unclear whether this is due to an actual increase in the challenges that occurred, or if it is a result of more thorough reporting. Despite the increase this year, the number of reported challenges has dropped 47% in the past ten years.

Keeping consistent with previous years, adult materials were challenged more often than children’s and young adult (YA) materials. About half (47%) of the materials challenged were intended for adults. Challenges for YA and children’s materials switched places, with YA challenges making up about a third (34%) of reported challenges, and children’s materials in a close third at 28%. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of all challenges resulted in no change, which has been the most common result since 2008.

The top reason for a reported challenge was Unsuited to Age Group, making up nearly a third (31%) of reported challenges, replacing Sexually Explicit (25%), which had been the top reason for challenges since 2012. Offensive Language (19%), Other (19%), and Insensitivity (16%) rounded out the top five reasons for a challenge in 2017.

Books were challenged more often than videos for the first time since 2014, accounting for about 3 in 5 (63%) of the reported challenges. Videos made up a quarter (25%) of reported challenges while computer (6%) and periodical (6%) challenges made up the rest.

For more results from the Public Library Challenges Survey, check out the full 2017 Challenged Materials in Public Libraries Fast Facts report. And, more information about intellectual freedom issues in libraries can be found here.

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.

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