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Brooklyn Public Library Team Named Librarians of the Year For Their Righteous Battle Against National Censorship

The national award recognizes Brooklyn Public Library's outstanding contribution to the profession.
Brooklyn Public Library. Photo: Yannise Jean for BK Reader.

The Library Journal has recognized a team from the Brooklyn Library as their Librarians of the Year today. The Books Unbanned team was recognized for their fight for the principles of intellectual freedom against an alarming rise in censorship. 

The award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in the library profession, was given to Librarians Nick Higgins, Leigh Hurwitz, Karen Keys and Amy Mikel, and YA Internship Coordinator, Jackson Gomes.

“The alarming rise in censorship over the last year was no match for the members of our Books Unbanned team who remain indefatigably committed to supporting the principles of intellectual freedom. They continue to provide a lifeline to teens across the country who are too often caught in the battle over censorship; each member of the team exemplifies the finest tradition of their profession. We are proud and fortunate to call them colleagues,” said Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO of Brooklyn Public Library.

Books Unbanned allows young adults ages 13 to 21, nationwide, to apply for a free eCard from BPL, unlocking access to the library’s extensive collection of half a million eBooks and audiobooks. Since launching in April 2022, more than 6000 teens have applied for the card from all 50 states.

The program was developed in response to an alarming rise in book bans in schools and public libraries. A record number of books were challenged in 2021, including classics like Toni Morrison’s "Bluest Eye," as well as books with LGBTQ characters or themes.

“The book bans we see across the country are attempts to silence our individuality, erase our history, and stifle our freedom to be wholly, expansively ourselves,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.

“The stories and characters books contain are lifelines, especially for young people who are only just discovering and learning to love every part of who they are. With the Books Unbanned program, Brooklyn Public Library extended that literary lifeline all the way from our borough into the homes of thousands of young adults. This award is a well-deserved reflection of the many hours of hard work the Books Unbanned team put into battling discrimination and censorship the Brooklyn way: By spreading love."